Patient Stories: Tom and Marla


Marla, age 69

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 during a routine mammogram – the first one I had ever received. After a mastectomy, I had a relatively easy path. Then in March 2008, I was diagnosed with lymphoma.

I’ve been a Park Nicollet patient since 1972, so the thought of going somewhere else for treatment never crossed my mind. My oncologist recommended antibody treatments to battle the lymphoma. On days after treatment, I would come home and sleep. Otherwise, I was fine. I’ve had it much easier than my husband, Tom.

Tom and Marla, Cancer Center patientsTom, age 66

I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in January, 2007. After the biopsy results, we chose to move forward with radical surgery to remove my bladder, prostate, some lymph nodes and part of my small intestine, which was then used to build a new bladder. Not long after surgery, I found out I would still need to undergo chemotherapy.

Before my chemo began, I returned to work for awhile. However, once chemo began, I was totally wiped out. I couldn’t really keep track of the days and nights. At 4 a.m., you were just as likely to find me completely awake as sleeping.

I’ve already overcome a lot in my life, including alcohol addiction and an aortic heart valve replacement. My wife, Marla, and I have enjoyed strong support from our church and family. We have found music – as singers and as an organist at our church – to be a great comfort and outlet for our emotions.

Also, we have nothing but great things to say about Renewing Life™, a class offered at Frauenshuh Cancer Center. We highly recommend it for others. Overall, we feel blessed by the wonderful staff at the cancer center. Dr. Tsai and our nurses are efficient, professional and personable, and have become our friends. They have our complete trust.

Cancer is quite a shock, but part of the rollercoaster of life. You need to go in with open eyes and know that whatever happens, happens. It’s all about going with the flow and enjoying life.

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