A Balm for the Soul.
—Testimonial by Angela Gengler
There’s never a good time for a cancer diagnosis. Mine wedged itself hard between my daughter’s 2nd birthday and my son’s 9 month check up. A month before, I had gone to my family doctor for a mild, but chronic cough. An x-ray led to a CT, a CT to biopsy, a biopsy to a PET, scan, a PET scan to a colonoscopy. Then there it was: stage IV colon cancer with metastases to the lungs.
I became a cancer patient. There wasn’t much time to be devastated. We met with an oncologist and he gave me his recommendation (chemo for life) and said that my treatment options were limited in a “community setting”, but that I may benefit from a consult with a major cancer center. He told me he would arrange for me to get a second opinion at the Mayo clinic. We settled on a plan: 4 rounds of chemotherapy in Lincoln followed by scans and a consult at the Mayo clinic 8 weeks later.
The consult at Mayo went well. My cancer seemed to be controlled and they felt there was a chance that they could remove both the colon and thoracic tumors. The surgeries would not be easy. I would have a colon resection, followed by a left lung surgery 4 days later and then a right lung surgery 2 weeks after that. I would then need 4-8 weeks to recover and wouldn’t be able to travel home between the surgeries. Moreover, the lung surgeries would prevent me from picking up my kids for at least 6 weeks. I was going to need a lot of help.
The surgeries offered hope, but I couldn’t imagine how we would coordinate them. Who would take care of the kids? Who would take care of me? Would my husband be able to take two months off of work? Could we afford to move to Rochester, MN for almost 2 months?
Then my brother told me about the We Care Endowment. He said that they offered financial assistance to cancer patients if they needed to travel in order to receive the best care. I started making arrangements. I found a house in Rochester that we could rent for 2 months. My husband arranged to take unpaid leave. Then I applied for the We Care grant.
My application was approved. The grant we received from We Care covered the cost of travel and lodging for the duration of our stay. What a gift! It is difficult to express what that money meant to us. Yes, it eased the financial burden, but more importantly it allowed me to have my family close to me through the surgeries and recovery. I could rest well in the hospital knowing that my 1 & 2 year old were just down the street being well cared for by people they knew and loved. The gift of having them close was balm for the soul.
In the end, the surgeries were not curative. Still, I am grateful for them. They eased the tumor burden in my lungs and I believe have given me more time. I continue to receive chemotherapy in Lincoln and travel to the Mayo clinic every 8 weeks for scans and consults. The grant I have received from We Care have made this continual travel possible. Whatever the outcome, I know that I am loved, supported and that people really, truly do care.
The grant we received from We Care covered the cost of travel and lodging for the duration of our stay. What a gift! It is difficult to express what that money meant to us. Yes, it eased the financial burden, but more importantly it allowed me to have my family close to me through the surgeries and recovery.
—a note from Calla’s Family
Thank you so much for the generosity, prayers, and grant for Calla’s condition. This means so much to us, words can’t express how grateful we are.
Thank you again and God bless,
Calla, Nate, Angie, Luca, and Julie Olrich