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Mary Catherine’s Story

Through adversity we grow, our growth maybe in tight rings like the tree that faces a drought, but those trees have the strongest core and will withstand the winds of the hurricane when they ar older.

It all started out when Mary went in for her college cross country phyiscal on July 28. Her doctor felt a mass in her pelvis and sent her to get a CT scan that day. The scan showed what was thought to be a large ovarian cyst. So then she was referred to the University of Minnesota Gynocology department. They also thought it was a cyst and scheduled surgery for August 8. It was supposed to be a 2-3 hour surgery and 2-3 day hospital stay. It turned into a 11 hour surgery which she recieved 7 pints of blood and 2 units of plasma. What they had found was a ganglioneuroblastoma tumor which was roughly 11cm by 11cm though at the time they weren't sure what it was. She was in ICU for a day and recieved 2 more pints of blood post-op. She had 35 staples starting an inch sbove her belly button, down around her belly button and down 6 inches. She was in the hospital for a total of 9 days. During those 9 days we heard bad news then good news. There were various tests and scans donewhile she was there and we left feeling cautiously optimistic. Then on Monday Aug. 21 we went back down for the results of the test. What was found was that the tumor had spread to her bone marrow in her left hip and femur. Also the tumor that was left was cancerous. So now she is starting chemotherapy on Monday Aug. 28 at the University of Minnesota Hospital. She will be there for 3-5 days every month for the next 4-6 months. She will probably have all of the common sypmtoms of chemo - hair loss, nasea, tiredness. Her tumor is rare - .15%. 50% of these tumors are found by the age of 1, another 45% by the age of 10, another 3% by the age of 16. Also only 5% of these tumors are found in the pelvis. Thank you all for all of your support - we love you all.

Latest Journal Update

4 years

      I cannot believe that it has been four years since Mary passed from this world.  Patti and I are still amazed at how visceral these emotions can be on these anniversaries.  Patti, the analytic doctor, said on Sunday how does my body even know this is coming, I feel like lead.  Last few days we have not slept well.  The feelings are almost harder to describe then when it was just a black veil of grief.  It is more like a target around your heart with little holes punched out in a random manner. Every occasion to celebrate, that we enjoy and rejoice in has  a little piece that is always missing.  Our other three children are absolutely amazing, sometimes I struggle knowing that I could loose anyone of them at anytime.  I wouldn't say I am a helicopter parent but I just can't stand to see them in pain.  Sarah is now in her second year of Med school and she seems to have adjusted to that strain, but last year watching her struggle to be in med school, and maintain her contacts with the people who supported her away from school was so hard.  When Sarah was struggling at the end of her first semester last year and just beside herself we sent Zac up to Duluth she just needed somebody physically there for her on her side.  I know that part of the reason they are the amazing young people they are is we have not sugar coated things. They have learned what is the most precious of things to be thankful for their families.   They had watched their sister and as she did in the sports arena she led by example.
       We put up our outdoor lights this weekend.  Something that always makes me think of Mary's rooms at the hospital as I would put up Christmas lights in her windows of her hospital rooms.  I don't even know if she liked them ,but it gave me some solace.  Even when I walked away from the hospital I could look back and know which room she was in in that big hospital.  When we put the lights up down the driveway, there were segments that were out, it felt much like the grief does now.  Bright strings fighting the darkness with skipped segments between and yet the whole thing together is still quite beautiful.  Patti ordered new lights but in someways I like the appearance of the interrupted chain because it feels so much like our lives.  This week it seems like I am misplacing things more then I usually do, maybe it is that I am  more distracted but L swear that things move or reappear when I have looked in that very same place two or three times.  Mary you little rascal.  Thank-you for letting me know you are still with us and are a part of our family.  A very special thank-you to our friends who have remembered us and keep reminding us that Mary was loved in this world, and beyond.  Especially for the young women who have remembered her as friend at their weddings.  For the Agnew sisters who have gone on to become the most amazing young women and somehow have continued to show their humbleness and not forget Sarah or Mary as team mates.  For the Schott's and the beautiful picture you sent of Mary with one of her heifer's at the State fair.  The little girl, Bella a 3 yo, that we get to take care of sometimes, spied the picture in our book case right away, and even though she has never met Mary declared there is Mary with her cow.  She will walk by the picture at anytime and will almost always say there is Mary with her cow. Almost as if to remind us that she is still here and even if we don't get to see her she is here.  Thank-you all for your support and love.  Arden

34 people hearted this



Laurie Drill-Mellum
By Laurie Drill-Mellum
Sending love your way. We are with you in spirit as you continue to walk this painful journey. We love you all. Love, Mel and Laurie
Ed and Ethanie Schmidt
Arden,Patti,Sarah,Zach and Sam .... from our family to yours --- our thoughts, our prayers, our tears and most of all our wonderful memories of Mary ... which makes us smile and laugh!
Emily Hoenisch
By Emily Hoenisch
Thinking of you and missing you guys! Hugs!!!!
Bonnie and Gary Ives
By Bonnie and Gary Ives
Yes the body knows -- all last week I have been struggling to maintain my energy, by last weekend all I could do was "the musts" which then quickly left me struggling against the weariness, napping and falling asleep early. Arden you are so talented, capturing in words and metaphors this journey. The loss still feels fresh and awful and yet we were all blessed by your gift of such a wonderful woman. Thankful always to have been touched. Most often when I think of Mary it is the poster image of her running... SEE MARY RUN! Love, hugs and squishes today and always. Bonnie and Gary
Tina Isaac and James Meyer
Gosh, I don't know how many times Mary pops into my thoughts at random times. The other day, our pastor had to put his loyal dog of 14 years down, and I assured him that my niece would be overjoyed to meet Jubilee and care for her in heaven! I just picture Mary as collecting all kinds of animals around her! It made him smile. And Mary's experience definitely educated me and has made me a better PT for people undergoing cancer treatment. But mostly, it is her picture on my bulletin board at work, or on my shelf here in the living room at home...it is like she is always watching out for us. We love her and remember her, never fear.

Love, Tina, James, Isaac
Ginny Savaloja
By Ginny Savaloja
Thought of your family today., knowing it was the anniversary. I remember the day you had her pin on from one of her sport buttons. I thought to myself what a fortunate girl she was to have parents who loved her so completely. I know she had to realize that. God gave Mary to your family because He knew there would be a bond so strong it is not subject to time or distance. Praying for peace for you all during this especially trying time.
Jane trok
By Jane Trok
Arden, that was an absolutely beautifully written piece! My heart goes out to you and your family on this anniversary. May you find much love, peace and solace in being with your loved ones this Thanksgiving.
Dawn Osterman
By Dawn Osterman
Oh Yes, Our Mar is still with us! I still talk to her a lot as I know she is our bright star. It is humbling to know just how many people Mary touched in the short time she was physically with us. Mary, you are such a good friend ! Love and miss everyone- Dave Osterman
Jano Hardel
By Jan and Tom
We've been thinking of you ALL... as Thanksgiving nears.... We love you guys!!
Nanette Jordahl
I think of you all often, especially being back in the thick of things at UWRF and out of retirement for a bit. I just cannot believe that Mary has been gone for 4 years and my own young husband now for 26 years. I too still remember the U.Minn. hospital windows and nod an acknowledgement each time I pass by not only for those we have lost but for all of the life and death struggles I know personally that take place daily behind those windows. I am so thankful each day for the research and progress that is being made by all of those incredibly dedicated doctors and researchers. But that doesn't make me miss Bob or Mary any less. I just wonder sometimes why I was spared...but then someday it will all become apparent and hopefully as beautiful as were the lives of these two souls. Blessings to you all this holiday season. I am thankful that you still write to include those of us who knew Mary well and grew to know your amazing family. Nan Jordahl