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Deanna’s Story

Welcome to CaringBridge. We have created this site to keep our friends and family updated about Deanna's progress. Please read the latest in the journal, view the photo gallery, and drop us a line in the guestbook.As of Friday, December 12th, Deanna is still at Abbott Northwestern hospital in Minneapolis, staying on the Spinal floor, with her husband Neal close at hand. Several months ago (August of 2008), she started experiencing back pain. After an initial MRI, she was told she had a fracture in her vertebrae. For several months Deanna diligently wore a brace to heal the fracture. The past two weeks, the fracture, however, got worse.

On December 8th, Deanna had another MRI and at the doctor's request, a subsequent biopsy of the lower back. She was admitted to the hospital on December 10th because the biopsy had come back malignant. She was admitted by the Spinal doctor, but the Oncologist quickly became involved. It turns out, the bone in the vertebrae had weakened, and had fractured because of the cancer within the back. Running point on all the activity and follow-up testing was Dave Tetzlaff, Neal and Deanna's brother-in-law, who is a physician at Abbott. It has been a god-send to have Dave involved.

After a CT Scan, the news became worse, and that it was not only in the back, but had also gotten to the pelvis, with a couple spots on the lung. Because the form of cancer appeared to be estrogen based, the breast was still the likely culprit. This had not been verified. The doctors still needed to verify the source as the breast, so an ultrasound and biopsy of chest was proposed, and conducted on Thursday, December 11th. On the evening of the 11th, the Oncologist gave Deanna and Neal some positive news, that the lower back could and would be treated immediately with radiation. And Deanna would be feeling better in the back by Christmas. As of Friday, however, we still haven't heard back from Pathology on the biopsy of the breast.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, discussions around next steps for the breast cancer will be discussed. The real difficult aspect for Deanna, is having to deal with two sources of cancer and pain: the lower back (immediate) and the breast (longer term depending on the stage it is in).

We will update the details here and in the journal as they become known. It is obviously a fluid situation, and changing by the day, if not the hour. Please check the journal as well, since Deanna will be updating that as her pain improves, and she begins her radiation treatments. Please keep Deanna, Neal and their two children, Linnea (12) and Annika (9) in your deepest prayers as they move through this trying time in their lives.
Thank you, Noel Thompson (Deanna's brother).

Latest Journal Update

Best News in Seven Years

Blessed Fall to All!

Monday I spent half the day at the hospital having my annual PET/CT scans. Stripping down for the day to a gown and the cancer patient identity, especially when you’re feeling quite well, can be destabilizing. But Monday’s morning at the hospital went as smoothly as it’s ever gone. They even got the I.V. in on the first try, and I managed—for I think the first time ever—not to cry at any point through the radioactive injections, the scans, and the blood draws. Yay me. And yay all of you who’ve been holding me in your thoughts and prayers this week: that great reserve of support helped strengthen and sustain me.

This afternoon was the meeting with my oncologist followed by my every-fourth-month chemo treatment. It’s always a tense time for Neal and me as we await the oncologist’s word on the tests. But at today’s appointment, we heard words we never thought we’d hear: “You are in COMPLETE REMISSION!” the doctor exclaimed exuberantly as he showed us reports from the scans. Neal and I didn’t quite know how to react. We’ve been told more times than we care to count that I have an incurable cancer. 

“Come again?”

The doctor tried again. “You. Have. No. Detectable. Cancer. In. Your. Body!”

“With metastatic breast cancer,” he continued, “we can’t say the word ‘cure’, but we CAN say ‘complete remission’, and we’re delighted to say that for you!”

Then the oncologist hugged each of us, reminded us that as a Jew he, too, believes in God, and even as he thinks that the medicine seems to be working really well, he also thinks that medicine’s not the only force at work.

Thanks be to God for this great news.

It’s close to seven years that I’ve been living with metastatic breast cancer. I’m not cured, not done living with it. But for the first time in 82 months of living with cancer, there’s no detectable sign of it in my body. That’s the best damn news I’ve had in 82 months.

People who study trauma say that one key aspect of dealing with trauma is the inability to imagine the future. When cancer forced me to resign from my full and wonderful life seven years ago, it also eclipsed my ability to envision a future that included my own active participation. Over the past year in particular, I have been feeling really really good, and with that stable sense of feeling great has also come a bit more confidence in saying “yes” to the future. Over the summer I was invited to give a talk in 2017. I swallowed hard and said “yes.” With today’s pronouncement of “complete remission,” saying “yes” to the future becomes a bit more possible.

I still am a cancer patient. I go in again in January to be tested for tumor marker numbers (which were at 18.33 today—super far under the magic #38 which indicates remission) and more treatment. But we’re also going to revel in this new status—the status of no detectable cancer in my body

When Pope Francis spoke today to the U.S. Congress, he invoked four “representatives of the American people,” one of whom was Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. I think of her statement tonight: “I wanted life and I wanted the abundant life. I wanted it for others too.” Tonight life on Highland Parkway in St. Paul is abundant, overflowing. Even as I rejoice in that abundance, I want it so badly for others, too. I want it for Jeremy battling brain cancer, for John who has a brain tumor, for friends Steve and Ann and Mark and Ben, all living with cancer. I want abundant life for neighbors who’ve lost their dearest ones long before it should have been their time. 

To you, dear family and friends. Your love and care and prayers and support mean more than words can say. May you all have life, in abundance, and may we all continue to offer our support and care so that others may also have life and have it abundantly. Much love and thanks and gratitude, Deanna  

27 people hearted this



Anne Parker
By The Parkers
We are rejoicing with you, Deanna and family!
1 person hearted this
Stephanie Hawkinson
By Stephanie Hawkinson
WOW! SOO Happy to read this! You are amazing.
1 person hearted this
Ruth Marcott
By Ruth Marcott
Tremendous news! So happy for you and your family.
1 person hearted this
Mary Nilsen
By Mary Nilsen
What can one say except Amen and Alleluia!!
1 person hearted this
Julie Schulz
Oh my heavens. What wonderful news! AND you won the Grand Sweepstakes! What are you going to do with your $10?
1 person hearted this
Beth Lewis
By Beth Lewis
How wonderful! I'm so thrilled for you and your family that you have heard these joyful words! God's blessings to you!
1 person hearted this
Laurel Schneider
By Laurel
weeping. just weeping. best DAMN news EVER
2 people hearted this
Linda Nygaard
PTL, you are one of His miracles!! Happiness to you and your family!
1 person hearted this
Marty Stortz
By Marty Stortz
Yes. Yes. Yes.
1 person hearted this