I am an average forty-eight year old who has been married to my best
friend, my husband Ed, for twenty-six years. Mother to twenty-four
year old Holly, and twenty-two year old Drew. I was raised in southern
Minnesota, and moved to Rochester after I graduated from high school.
have worked full time at the Mayo Clinic for twenty-eight years.
When I said I was average I meant that I am very content with a simple
beautiful life, wanting no more than my home, bills paid, and a little
tucked away for when we got older. My greatest pleasures in life
were enjoying my family and friends. People give me such energy.
I was just ready and excited for the next stage of my life. The kids
are grown, and it was finally time for me, and my best friend to
enjoy our empty nest years. Life at forty-eight was all I had dreamed
of. On Friday, Sept 8th, we found out that our lives would never
be quite the same. At forty-eight years old I was diagnosed with
terminal brain cancer. No cure!
Four months ago, a group of us whose
lives have been changed because of brain cancer came together to
begin an organization called “Brains
Together For a Cure.” We feel strongly about getting out information
and finding a cure for brain tumors. Unfortunately, that takes money. “Brains
Together For a Cure” is an organization whose goal is to raise
money for research and awareness. My personal hope before I leave
this earth is that brain cancer researchers will have the resources
necessary to start working on a cure and give us a fighting chance.
We are asking for your help. “Brains Together
For a Cure” will
be sponsoring our 1st 5 K walk on Saturday, October 27th. We are
asking you to consider donating money to pursue our cause.
join “Brains Together For a Cure” in doing all
that we can so that the next generation of brain cancer patients
will not have to hear the word “terminal” in their diagnosis.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Published in Rochester Post-Bulletin and authorized to post on web
8/27/2007 10:46:02 AM
Back in 1987, Sue Hruska, like most of us in the state, watched the
Minnesota Twins win the World Series. When the players got together
for a 20th-year reunion last weekend at the Metrodome, Hruska had
a much closer view of the action.
Sue is the wife of Ed Hruska, the head of the Rochester Amateur Sports
Commission. She also happens to be battling terminal brain cancer,
which she was diagnosed with last September.
Well, back in January, Ed brought in former Twin Frank Viola as the
feature speaker for the Rochester Quarterback's Club Hall of Fame
Banquet. Viola won Game 7 of the 1987 at the Metrodome for the
Sue, who is 49, and Viola were seated at the same table and struck
up a conversation. She was going through treatment and had been losing
her hair. "I had a very uncomfortable wig on," Sue said.
She apologized to Viola for adjusting the wig and told him of her
battle with cancer. "Apparently
Frank was impressed with Sue's attitude and outlook as they seemed
to hit it off," Ed said.
Following the banquet, Viola called Ed to check on Sue's condition.
She has had nine months of chemotherapy treatment and has MRI appointments
every 60 days for checkups.
"He's just a very, very nice man," Sue said of Viola.
Viola was just getting started. Earlier this month he said if Sue
was up to it, she was welcome to be his guest in the players' skybox
during their World Series reunion. Being a huge Twins fan, Sue didn't
have to think long about the invitation.
"We all know we need to plan around the games as she never misses
them," Ed said.
So last Sunday, the Hruskas were among the people in the skybox along
with most of the 1987 Twins.
"I think I met most of the guys," Sue said with joy in
It turned out to be a very special day. Sue, a 1976 Albert Lea High
School graduate, has been a Twins fans since she was a little girl.
She used to follow the team with her dad, who died at age 50 in 1986
and missed the Twins' first World Series championship.
"They've always been part of my life, bigger than life," Sue
said of the Twins. "And for one day, we were part of their lives."
Sue has had brushes with Twins players in the past. Back in the late
1980s, Juan Berenguer came back to the Hruska's house when he was
in Rochester. Last month, Torii Hunter and Lew Ford were answering
questions in the plaza at the Metrodome before a game. Sue was in
the crowd and asked a question. Afterwards, Hunter came by and gave
her a kiss on the cheek.
Great memories all. But it's tough to top being in the middle of
a World Series reunion.
"It's funny," Sue said, "you get sick and all of a
sudden all these wonderful things happen (to you) and you meet all
these wonderful people."
It's easy to see why Viola was taken with Sue Hruska. She has an
upbeat attitude and sends off nothing but positive energy.
"I've had my share of fun," she said. "Whatever God
hands me, I'll deal with."
One goal she has is to see outdoor baseball again in Minnesota. The
Twins' new ballpark is set to open in 2010. She has made it a habit
of attending Twins Home Openers with her son Drew, who is 22 and
will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
"I told my son, if I'm still alive in 2010 were going to the
opener," she said. "Or I'll be an angel in the outfield."
In November of 2003, our lives took a turn down a road none of us
wanted to go. Our beloved husband and father, Dan, aged 48, was diagnosed
with glioblastoma multiforme. As we left the hospital on that sad
day, a doctor advised us, “Go home and live. Do not begin to
die; begin to live.”
And that is what we did. Dan embraced three surgeries, radiation,
chemotherapy and any clinical trial for which he qualified in a valiant
effort to beat the tumor. He faithfully documented his journey in
a daily journal writing. One entry states: “I am hopeful that
each new treatment I receive will keep me alive until the next new
breakthrough drug becomes available to me. Just keep on living!”
In August of 2006, Dan’s body succumbed to the tumor. But his
spirit continues to shine in the lives of all who knew him. Our family
remains hopeful that someday a cure for this tumor and all brain
tumors will become a reality. We will continue to press forward in
Dan’s memory, to support research for brain tumors and to invite
others to join with us in this effort.
Margo Bissen and Family
Meigan, Ray, Tony, Tim, Mary and Molly
Dear Area Business Owners:
On Saturday, October 27, 2007, the first annual Brain Tumor Awareness
Event and Walk will be held in Rochester. I am personally writing
to ask for your support for this event through a financial or some
other type of contribution.
This event has personal significance and importance to our family
because our son, Will, age 9, has courageously battled two malignant
brain tumors since March, 2004. Our lives were forever changed on
March 14, 2004 when we given the devastating diagnosis.
Initially, you are completely overwhelmed by information that the
medical team is giving you, fear, anger, and a helpless feeling that
nothing is within your control any more. However, as time progressed,
we accessed various resources available and took Will’s treatment
and recovery process one day (sometimes one hour) at a time, and
this helped us make it through various stages of the journey, although
many days were dark and difficult.
We are so thankful to live in Rochester and have access to the wonderful
pediatric services available at Mayo Clinic. The medical care that
Will has received has been excellent. He has had access to many of
the current treatments for his particular tumor type and his doctor
consults with other top physicians in the country about treatment
options in his particular case and we work together as a team to
decide what is best.
While brain tumors can leave patients with residual effects to cope
with in life, in Will’s case there are balance and hand/eye
coordination issues, this hasn’t slowed him down. He plays
summer baseball, soccer, and chess, loves art and engages in many
other activities that any 9 year old boy would!!
We appreciate whatever contribution your organization can put toward
supporting this important event as more research needs to be done
to continue to improve brain tumor treatments and options available
for patients and their families. We hope to see you and your staff
at the event on October 27th.
Proud mother to Will, age 9, brain tumor survivor since
On Oct 7, 2006 we were having an end of the summer, family get together.
I had suffered with headaches for three weeks, thinking I had a sinus
infection. A trip to the emergency room the next day changed my life
forever with a diagnosis of a terminal malignant brain tumor.
Since that time I have had two brain surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.
I lost some of my ability to see, to read and comprehend, to drive
a car and my career. I have gotten through it all because of the
amazing support of my family and friends.
The treatments I endured were grueling but absolutely necessary if
I wanted to live longer than six months. Currently, even with the
treatments available my chances of survival are statistically short.
Brains Together For a Cure is a local, non-profit organization that
was formed with the sole purpose of raising funds for adult and pediatric
brain tumor research.
It is my hope that you will carefully consider donating to this cause.
Dick Lagergren, my 61 yr old husband, friend and love, retired mechanical
designer from IBM and Western Digital, woke up early the morning
of May 10, 2005, confused and unable to speak. It appeared he was
having a stroke. The previous evening we'd enjoyed a lovely meal
and much laughter with Dick's sister and her husband, celebrating
my 59th birthday - all of us enjoying retirement and the adventures
yet to come.
Dick was in excellent health. He never smoked and ate what was 'good
for him'! He got plenty of exercise via his annual trips to the
Boundary Waters fishing, the Rocky Mountains elk hunting and on
our own 61 acres hunting whitetail deer, plus volunteering his
woodworking skills at our church and various other places.
Within an hour, the emergency doctors at St. Mary's diagnosed a mass
in Dick's left front lobe of his brain cavity and after an MRI we
were told he had 2 glioblastoma cancerous brain tumors. 12 hours
later Dick was in surgery where the large tumor on the front left
cavity was removed, the smaller tumor was inoperable as it was
located in the center of his brain, on top of his speak center.
Following surgey our neurologist gave us the diagnosis - Dick has
4 to 6 months to live without radiation and chemotherapy. With
these treatments his life would be extended 6 to 8 months. Dick
rebounded from the surgery with flying colors, spending only 2
nights in the hospital. His immediate question following his terminal
diagnosis was, "can
I still go on my Boundwary Waters fishing trip in 2 weeks?" We
went and had the best fishing we'd ever had in years! Treatment
began right after the fishing trip. The treatments caused Dick
great fatigue, however, he continued to travel to visit family
and friends, and fight the battle valiantly, praying for a miracle.
He remained positive, surrounded by loving family and friends.
He was concerned only that I "not go through this again",
as my first husband died suddenly 17 years earlier from heart arrithmea.
Dick was such a caring, loving man.
Dick's remaining tumor was contained until January of 2006, when
it broke through and took his life on April 13th, Maundy Thursday.
He died in my arms, as I sang "Amazing Grace" to him
as he entered heaven.
Dick and I had planned to grow old together, enjoy our children and
grandchildren in many of life's celebrations, and use whatever
gifts God had given us through mission work sharing His love with
others. Brain cancer took those dreams away. Please consider sponsoring
this vital walk for brain cancer research, "Brains
Together For a Cure",
so others in the future who face this same diagnosis may live to
fulfill their dreams.
In March of 2007, Stacy Lilienthal had a craniotomy to remove both
a tumor and a cyst. She had epilepsy for two years as a child. Symptoms
went away for about fifteen years.
At age 22, she started feeling like she was about to sneeze, but
never did. These half-sneezes would happen at various places and
times. Stacy went into the hospital when she also had a non-responsive
seizure while visiting friends.
Mayo doctors in Austin explained those half-sneezes were actually
olfactory seizures. They did an MRI and found the tumor and cyst
in the section of her right temporal lobe that allows her the ability
to speak and comprehend language. She was referred to the Mayo clinic
in Rochester and was told of their outstanding neurology staff.
She went through surgery and was back to work in about two weeks.
Stacy is an on-air TV reporter and is thankful to write and speak
just like she did before the surgery. She also writes out of work
and started training for a half marathon about two months after the
The tumor was tested and Doctors found out it was a tumor
most commonly found on the spine. They believe the epileptic symptoms
Stacy had as a child could have been the start of the slow growing
tumor. Both her head and spine are regularly scanned.
I would like every one who reads this to imagine themselves as a
twenty-six year old women. You have recently found out you are pregnant
with your second child, and you and your husband couldn't be happier.
Five months into your pregnancy, you start to experience horrible
headaches and everyone blames it on the baby that you are carrying.
After a little more testing they find that you are also housing a
tumor in your brain. The tumor was so life threatening the doctors
needed to do surgery right away, they couldn't even wait until your
baby was born.
You may have just imagined this, but it is a true story of a friend
of ours who died on March 15, 2008 due to her recurring brain tumor.
Her baby was born healthy and is still doing as well as a child could
with out a mother.
I myself am twenty-six with three children and a brain tumor. I
felt like I was the only one in the world that was suffering from
this disease. Until the first Annual Brains together For a Cure walk
where I met many other patients and their families in my same position.
This walk means more than just raising money for a good cause, it
is sometimes the only way to find similar people in our situation.
Your support means more than you will every know.
I am a 28 yr. old male who was diagnosed with a grade III oligoastrocytoma
in May 2007. When I was first diagnosed I had overwhelming support
from family and friends.....I thought that was enough. It wasn't
until I was introduced to other brain tumor patients at the walk
last year that I realized that they need me just as much as I my
family and I need them. Brain cancer has not only affected me but
also my wife and children. It is so nice for all of us to share with
each other what we are going through because there is usually someone
else dealing with the same situation. We have come to realize that
we are not fighting this alone. Through the walk last year I have
gained close friendships and for that I am extremely grateful!!
My diagnosis occurred at age 60, after experiencing mildly painful
headaches. Prior to the diagnosis, I had been very healthy, active
and lacking any symptoms that would indicate the growth of a tumor.
The Walk has given me an opportunity to connect with others while
grasping onto this earth with all I have. It enables each of us as
tumor patients who are facing many of the same medical challenges,
to seek solutions, seek comfort from others, both as patients and
care givers. Having the ability to share stories, make comparisons,
evaluate alternative ideas, explore various treatment pathways and
find supportive solutions has become an experience that is more beneficial
than I ever imagined prior to my exposure to the Walk For a Cure.
The Walk provided an excellent opportunity to not only raise funds,
raise awareness of the importance of finding a cure and develop an
awareness of the importance of support in all forms human, financial,
The journey began on Tuesday, February 27, 2007,
the day our world changed. After several weeks of problems with
balance, an MRI indicated a brain tumor. A biopsy confirmed our
worst fear - Glioblastoma Multiforme. Typical survival is six months
John was born in 1940 in the beautiful rolling hills of southwestern
Wisconsin. He was the second child, oldest son, brother to Jayne,
Patti and Tom. We met on a blind date and were married four months
later. Such is love at first sight. That was 41 years ago. The love
endured and grew into a marvelous friendship. He was my best buddy,
fishing partner, maker of "World Famous Chili" and my
soul mate. To his friends and family he was "John," "Johnny"
and "Uncle John."
John loved nature, hunting, fishing and the North Dakota prairie.
It was never about the catch or harvest, but about the change of
seasons and absorbing and experiencing God's wonderful creation.
In his professional life he was an independent manufacturer's rep
in the glass industry. His favorite relaxation was reading and studying
World War II history, especially the European theatre. When he wasn't
on a golf course he was reading about Augusta and the Masters.
John's most class act was his journey with the brain tumor and
the developing limitations. His first reaction was that he would
beat the odds. He focused on that goal through the standard treatment
of chemotherapy and radiation combined with a clinical drug, and
subsequently two "off label" chemotherapies. Although
he acknowledged the realities of the disease, his positive attitude
and optimism were an inspiration to all who knew him.
After many turns in the road John's earthly journey ended on Wednesday,
May 7, 2008, 15 months after diagnosis.
How does one measure success? Is it a hearty "Hello"
greeting when answering the phone, despite difficulties speaking
caused by the encroaching tumor? Is it the affirmation of one's
faith during a difficult struggle? Is it 15-months of survival?
John had many blessings in his life, and he lived life to the fullest.
But his greatest blessing was the outpouring of love and support
from his family and friends during his illness.
And now, what do we, those he loved, do?
Symbolically we will continue OUR journey on Saturday, October
25, when we gather in Rochester to participate in the Brains Together
For a Cure walk as a tribute to our "John," "Johnny,"
"Uncle John." There is little we can do alone, but together
we can help raise money for research to find a cure for this awful
disease. For that reason our family designated Brains Together For
a Cure as the recipient of John's memorial gifts. We know that Mayo
Clinic will use these gifts wisely for brain tumor research and
For those walking your own journey with a brain tumor or as a supportive
loved one, know the Patterson family is praying for your strength,
endurance and hope. Step over the boulders on the path, but watch
for the flowers. Sometimes they're tiny buds and hard to see. Don't
John's loving wife, Ruth Patterson
Ruth and John Patterson