Tammy Nelson

First post: Dec 31, 2019 Latest post: May 28, 2020
In spring of 2018, mom was suffering from tightness and pressure in her neck and chest, a swollen face, and the presence of collateral veins (meaning that blood was not efficiently able to reach her heart).  Since these were the exact same symptoms I presented post chemotherapy, we knew that mom likely had SVC Syndrome (Superior Vena Cava Syndrome). After insisting on a CT at the Grantsburg hospital,  we discovered she had a tumor in her chest. She was then transported to Fairview Southdale hospital where they conducted a biopsy revealing the presence of Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), Stage 3C. While this was discouraging news, we had enough prior experience with cancer to know that each type has its own prognosis and were encouraged to learn that this type and stage of cancer is treatable - and even curable - which is what we were praying for.  Over the past 18 months, she endured 30+ rounds of radiation, months of chemotherapy, and a year of immunotherapy in hopes that she would be cured. A CT scan in August of 2019 looked promising; however, a PET scan on Halloween revealed that they were unable to cure her cancer which launched us into Plan B of her treatment plan. 

We consulted with Mayo Clinic and a functional medicine doctor in Mankato who works primarily with cancer patients to help support her during this next phase. She will be undergoing more chemotherapy and immunotherapy in hopes we can contain her tumors to her right lung, where they currently are today. 

We end every appointment with positive news and know the effect that a healthy mindset has on the efficacy of treatment so I will share here:
- Mom's cancer has not metastasized; it's currently in her right lung and in the right hilar lymph node (in her chest by her right lung) which is HUGE
- She is still a candidate for immunotherapy
- We had additional testing done in Mankato which revealed that her type of cancer should be vulnerable and continue to be responsive to treatment
- Lung cancer is heavily researched and in the words of her Mayo doctor "you will be around long enough to benefit from the many advances in lung cancer research"

As many of you know, cancer is never just about cancer. The last 18 months have been difficult at best. Immunotherapy has similar side effects to chemo so she has suffered from chronically low blood counts (low hemoglobin = no energy = tired = weak = COLD), the many after effects of radiation to the chest and neck (no salivary glands which caused unmanageable dry mouth and issues with her teeth, severe reflux, coughing and vomiting phlegm, etc), blood clots, and many hospital stays for ulcers and bleeding from blood thinners and acid corrosion in her esophagus. While she has powered through every one of these obstacles, it has been trying to say the least. Mom has never been one to sit. She doesn't watch TV (except sports!). She's a mover and a shaker so keeping herself busy and occupied has been a struggle. On top of this, she was let go from her job after 28 years the day after her FMLA was consumed which was disappointing to her and all of us. While this has felt like one blow after the next, we find peace and comfort in God's plan and continue to look for the many miracles and blessings along the way! 

Much to mom's dismay, we are starting this site primarily to share information but also so that she feels loved and supported. Her humility has followed her on this journey and while she does NOT like to be the center of attention, we know and believe in the power of prayer and positivity - something our family has been blessed to receive from so many of you in the past. For that, we are so grateful. 

I have been warned not to get too technical with these updates, so I'll keep it light but ask that you continue to pray for her, for us, for her doctors and nurses, and maybe a less eventful 2020 ;) Thank you!

Kim, Nick, Lauren & Grant