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A cancer story: Striving for normalcy

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Oct 11th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Health & Wellness

Karla Strom (left) of Lanesboro, Minn., continues her recovery from breast cancer after several months of treatment. Her husband Scott (right) continues to support his wife each day as she continues treatment.

To Karla Strom, “A normal day is a good day.” These normal days are now appreciated much more since a discovery of breast cancer from a routine mammogram around February 28, 2013. Strom had no real symptoms and did not suspect that she would be one of the many who battle breast cancer in their lifetimes.

After learning the results of a confirming biopsy while on vacation, Karla returned home to a whole new routine. Surgery at Olmsted Medical Center soon lead to the oncology department at the Mayo Clinic where she would undergo two rounds of chemotherapy. Karla completed the first round of chemo, which was more aggressive round while more side effects became present in the second round.

Always looking towards the positives, Karla and Scott both express great satisfaction with Karla’s medical care. “The doctors and nurses are great, and we’ve even met a lot of nice people who were also visiting the oncology floor. They come from all over the country, and even from around the world,” said Karla.

Today, Strom, who looks to the optimistic side, is in a sort of “waiting period” in her treatment plan and undergoes regular echocardiograms to monitor her heart muscles. The drugs used in chemotherapy can be taxing on this vital organ, but she’s continuing to rebuild that muscle each day.

As Karla’s family soon found out, cancer is a disease that affects more than the patient. Karla’s husband Scott said, “This has been a life changing situation.” Karla commented, “It really changes your outlook on life.”

Each day poses new challenges for a person with cancer, and there are always fears and concerns that are in the back of one’s mind. Though she’s a tough fighter, Karla’s biggest fear is the cancer coming back. “I do not want to go through this again.”

Karla has had many coping mechanisms throughout her battle with cancer. She highlights staying busy with her favorite activities of quilting, painting and decorating. “When you’re going through something like this, you have to find a sense of normalcy.”

Karla’s family was also a great support team. “My kids are very supportive. They’ve been so helpful and they’d do pretty much anything for me.”

For other women, Karla stresses the importance of yearly mammograms. Similar to her situation, it is vital to get checked even if there is no history of breast cancer in your family. Also, although her cancerous lump was not detectable with a self breast exam, this is a also a useful basic method of early detection.

Karla continues on her road to recovery, staying busy each day. She’s an avid Fillmore County Relay for Life participant on the Shooting Stars team, a proud member for nearly 15 years. In one fundraiser alone in 2013, $7,000 was raised.

Karla is looking forward to being cancer free and offers the advice to “stay positive,” even on a cancer patient’s most difficult of days. “This is something I can overcome and get over,” states Karla. Hoping for the continuation of a speedy recovery and taking one day at a time, Karla is looking forward to ringing in 2014 and what the new year will have to offer her.

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