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Heidi’s Story

Heidi was an inspirational speaker at Relay for Life events. She loved telling her story, in hopes that it helped others dealing with cancer and its treatment.

Heidi Bookmarks are available.  Email your address to: CRensink@charter.net

Click on "MY STORY" to read more.



Heidi’s story began during the end of her Junior year of high school. We had taken a trip to Kansas City to watch her MN Twins play and she did not feel well the whole trip. Her symptoms included morning headaches and vomiting. Upon our return to Minnesota, an MRI at the Waconia Emergency Room verified a brain tumor. It was May 31, 2004, a night that changed our lives forever.

On June 14, 2004 she had her first craniotomy to remove a tumor in the right frontal part of her brain. A complete resection was made, but the tumor was malignant in nature.

The exact kind could not be determined but was either a high-grade astrocytoma, or a PNET (Primitive Neuro Ectodermal Tumor) type.

As a result of deferring opinions, Heidi was treated for both types of cancer. Following the surgery, Heidi had six weeks of radiation while taking oral chemo, Temodar.

After that she began six months of IV chemo which ended in March of 2005. She did her senior year of high school at home via the internet. In April, she actually attended school and graduated in June that year with her classmates. A very special day, indeed!

Heidi attended college, working towards a degree in nursing, (inspired by those she had at Children's) until her first relapse in August 2007. She then had a second craniotomy for removal of a tumor in the right frontal area, again.

Now, it was determined that her tumor was a glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer. Another total resection was done. In September her stem cells were harvested. In October she received high dose chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant in October 2007.

After recovering at home for the next three months, Heidi returned to college, again, in January 2008.

In June 2008, her brain tumor relapsed for a second time. She then had a third craniotomy in July for the removal of a tumor in the right frontal area, again.

This was followed by monthly inpatient intra-arterial chemo treatments, which used (3) chemo drugs together.  This treatment regiment took a toll on her blood counts, and was  discontinued after 5 months, as the cyles were getting further apart, loosing their effectiveness.

Then in February 2009, the third (and final) relapse.

Surgery is no longer an option. With her previous radiation treatments and three previous surgeries, the incision area would be at great risk for infections and worse things.

So, in March 2009, Heidi started with Avastin, an IV drug administered every two weeks.  It interferes with the blood supply to the tumor, possibly slowing the growth, but would not get rid of it.

Our journey continues . . .

Latest Journal Update

5-year Anniversary

Our dearest Heidi,

I thought it would be nice to write another letter to you on this special anniversary.  I’m not saying this is going to be easy, but I wanted to acknowledge the milestone. 

My goodness Heidi, it will be five years ago tonight that Dad had fireworks to honor you.  I remember wondering, that night, if you could see them from heaven.  You loved fireworks … the bigger the better.

You always were a thrill seeker … never afraid of anything.  I remember when Dad and I took you to Las Vegas for your 21st birthday. You rode the “Big Shot” ride atop the Stratosphere, without us.  Our knees were weak while we waited, but you were in your glory strapped in this ride, a thousand feet above the ground.  Afterwards your comment was “that was lame”.  We all laughed, and your dad and I were so glad to be back on the ground, again.      

To my surprise, even with the passage of this amount of time, your anniversary still tugs at my heart strings when it comes around each year.  It probably always will.  I take the day off from work, as it’s my “Heidi day”.  I spend it reminiscing, first with Grant’s mom over breakfast.  We talk about many memories of the past.  We laugh and cry a bit, but we always enjoy our time remembering you.  We make note of the special things in our lives that we believe you are still influencing from heaven.  We know you are watching over those you loved,and that gives us comfort.

As for current events, your MN Twins are not doing so well.  We still have Joe Mauer.  He became a dad to twin girls last year.  Actually, the Twins play a double header today in their outdoor stadium, but the weather could be a little chilly with the snow we had last night.  Sorry to report, but this could be another long year for the Twins, Heidi.

Your sister, Kelly, is interning at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis.  She has another year left and then she will be done.  You are her inspiration, as she strives for a career in the medical field. The VA scrubs are mandatory “purple”. She smiles and knows you pulled some strings to get her accepted there!  Haha. Your brother Ryan completed his schooling in December.  It took a bit longer but, you understand why.  He is now working in Fargo as amechanical engineer.  He is enjoying this next chapter in his life.   

I guess this is enough for now.  You probably know all of this already. (smile)  Anyway, “Happy 5th anniversary in Heaven”, Heidi.  We will always miss you!

Again, please keep a watchful eye on all of your crazy relatives and friends here on earth!  We love you. Thank you for the sunshine on this special day!

Love and hugs to Heaven and back!

Mom