Editor’s note: Cancer impacts everyone. And Linda was one of them. Linda Gutschmidt shares her cancer journey as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is her story.

These last few months were hard, but others have it worse.

My name is Linda Gutschmidt. My husband, Roger, and I live near Gackle.

After my regular mammogram in May, doctors diagnosed me with breast cancer. Since then, I temporarily moved 100 miles east. Thankfully, our three children are in high school and college, so they can mostly care for themselves.

Cancer curtails all plans.

Summer is usually when Roger and I camp. This year, I camped in our cousin’s Fargo condo instead. But, I’m grateful.

Treatment included a biopsy, lumpectomy and 20 rounds of radiation. That’s the benefit of catching cancer early. No chemo!

When I began treatment, the doctors expressed optimism. They said, “If you are going to have cancer, this is the time to catch it.” They warned me about fatigue, soreness (seatbelts hurt!) and zingers. Zingers are unexpected pains that come out of nowhere. Have you heard of zingers before? No one talks about this. They are sharp and painful bursts in my chest. They catch you off guard and astound you.

Today, I have completed my treatment. My next appointment is a survivor’s visit: how to move forward with my life. Because I caught it early, I only have a one percent rate of recurrence. One percent. We all have a one percent chance of cancer, don’t we? We are fortunate.

I’ve had great care. The nurses are so kind.

However, local cancer care would have made such a difference. Miles matter when you are sick.

Cancer is expensive. Between the appointments, radiation, travel, medicine and the new, less painful and more comfortable undergarments I had to buy, I spent thousands of dollars. Dollars I did not expect to spend on this.

My journey would have been different, had cancer care been closer to home. I could have slept in my own bed. I could have managed my own household and been closer to my children. I could have saved the time and money I spent on travel.

I am fortunate – I could stay in a cousin’s condo. Not everyone has that option.

Today, I am thankful I caught this early. The road wasn’t easy for me, but I hope this cancer center makes it better for others.


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