Rita’s Cancer Journey – Part One: Diagnosis and Surgery

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[In June of 2012, Rita began her journey with breast cancer. She informed several friends in a couple of emails, and then as word got out, her support village blossomed. To keep everyone up to date, I took over the message duties, but always with her expert editorial contributions. There were ultimately 21 emails in the process.]

From: Rita Leifhelm
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:16 PM
Subject: Official Diagnosis

 The report is that I have invasive lobular carcinoma in my right breast.  I am having an MRI this afternoon to determine if there is any left breast involvement.

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Rita’s Cancer Journey – Part Two: Chemo – “Game On!”

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From: Lonnie Shalton
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 1:45 PM
Subject: Rita Update – “Game On!”

Friends and Family:

Chemo has arrived and Rita’s new shout-out is “Game On!”. Her plan is to accept sage advice passed along by Cathy Jolly (who in turn was quoting an oncology nurse): “Chemo is your friend. It will get you better. This time in your life is just a season. Seasons change and you will be done soon…do not think about chemo as anything other than what it is:  strong medicine to get you better.”

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Rita’s Cancer Journey – Part Three: Chemo Finale – Hallelujah!

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From: Lonnie Shalton
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2012 11:07 AM
Subject: Rita Update – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

 The subject line was suggested by Rita. You are probably thinking that it should be no surprise where Rita would be on Christmas. Of course she would be in Kansas City. But it turned out to be touch and go whether she would be on the Missouri side in our condo or on the Kansas side in a KU hospital bed.

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Rita’s Cancer Journey – Part Four: Post-Chemo and On the Road Again

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From: Lonnie Shalton
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:48 AM
Subject: Rita Update – Quarantine Lifted/Chrome Dome Pals/Good Vibrations

 If the 3-week chemo rhythm cycle was still in place, Rita and I would be spending most of today at the KU Cancer Center. Instead, she started this morning with yoga and is at the moment celebrating with her yoga buddies at a coffee shop. Fittingly, Groundhog Day was in this past 3-week period and, like Bill Murray in the movie, she has escaped that nagging repeating loop. The side effects from the final chemo treatment were unremarkable and Rita quickly trended up to almost full-time yoga and took walks on the treadmill and in Loose Park during that good weather. Attended book club last night.

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