Welcome & Thank You for Visiting

Welcome & Thank You for Visiting

On August 16th, 2011, three days before her 44th birthday, Connie was diagnosed with "Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 3". In other words, breast cancer.

Battling cancer, no matter what form, is a difficult and frightening time for both those with the disease and their loved ones. Having strong moral support is important for everyone involved.

As the reality sinks in and we adjust to the new landscape, we realize we can't do this alone. We're reaching out to ask you for your moral support as Connie prepares to do battle with breast cancer.

Through this blog, we'll post updates on Connie's progress and offer a place for you to send words of encouragement and messages of support.

The burden of added medical expenses on top of day-to-day living expenses is mountainous. As a family, we're doing everything we can, but still it isn't enough. We're calling all angels who might consider donating to a fund for Connie and her family to relieve some of the stress so that Connie can concentrate on her recovery and get back to doing what she does best as loving mother, partner, sister, caregiver and friend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Dear Followers,

I apologize for not updating the blog sooner. Life has been interesting lately to say the least. Personal challenges have tested my spirit, but have not swayed my perspective on what’s most important this holiday season, and that is seeing that my sister Connie is comfortable and as free from stress as possible. Connie’s last chemo treatment on Wednesday, December 14 went better than the one before. She tires more easily but who wouldn’t after having your body pumped with harsh, non-discriminating cell-killing chemicals. My husband and I were talking about this and wondering how it can be that medical research hasn’t come up with a way for cancer fighting drugs to target only the affected cells. The treatments can be devastating with reactions that vary from mild nausea to permanent organ damage or worse. It is our only wish that Connie’s treatment result in the permanent cessation of the spread of this cancer.

Three weeks from her last chemo treatment will begin a new phase. She’ll then begin receiving chemo every week, as opposed to every three weeks for the next 12 weeks.  We’re hopeful that the drugs used prove to be more tolerable.

Unfortunately, family medical leave benefits run out on December 30 leaving them wholly responsible for payment of her medical insurance premiums; a daunting task without a paycheck and in the midst of chemo treatments with surgery to follow. On top of this, she has received notice that her job, as of December 30, is no longer secure and open to other applicants. Happy Holidays.

So, our next steps are unsure as of today but guaranteed that we will leave no stone unturned when searching for ways to help provide financial support throughout this journey. Everyone feels the affects of our depressed economy and is either in the same financial boat or knows someone who is. Knowing this makes it difficult to ask for help especially at this time of year, but what is life really about if not to help one another? Isn’t it about people, not things? What do we really need? I’m reminded of a Face book post I just saw that showed a picture of starving kids with their hands outstretched next to shoppers with arms full of holiday wrap and an abundance of gifts. The point is made with the wording “Define necessity”. My life mentor, dear family friend and surrogate father once asked me, “Kelly, what is the most important word?” I answered that “love” is the most important word. He said yes it’s a very important word, but more important is the word “others”. Thank you Hank. Your loving kindness and generosity of time, support and spirit made a positive impact on my life and will never be forgotten.

The support we have already received from loved ones, friends and community is heart-felt beyond belief, acknowledged and so appreciated. I love you all and thank you. As we put together a list of ideas on fund raising, please keep our family in mind and in your prayers. If you can help in any way we will be forever grateful.

This holiday and in the coming year I wish you and loved ones peace and good health.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2nd Chemo Treatment

Hi All,

I hope you all had a great Halloween. It's one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all the kids in their costumes.

I've added a few more pictures to the blog this evening. I uploaded an oldie of all five Hicks girls. Connie is the newborn I'm holding on my lap. On the left is Carol and to the right is Kathy holding Karla. It's precious because its the only photo we have of all of us together.

As I spent quite a bit of time tonight looking through family photos I'm reminded how quickly time flies. I see dates on pictures taken several years ago now and could swear they were taken more recently. Seems like yesterday that Chloe was born. This December 26th she'll turn 4 years old.

I visited with Connie, Chloe and Robert yesterday as they were getting ready to take Chloe trick-or-treating for Halloween. She looked adorable in her Rapunzel costume. From what I hear she brought home quite the haul. Connie and Robert will have to come up with some way to ration the booty. Chloe definitely has a sweet tooth. Good luck there :-).

Connie is doing well. With Robert at her side, she'll be going in for her 2nd chemo treatment tomorrow, November 2. Her hair, despite hopes that she would be an exception, is beginning to fall out. Bring it on I say! Let it go! Let's get on with it so we can move beyond this chapter. Given the choice to fast forward to the future, I'd have to decline. Special moments are interwoven within each day creating a beautiful tapestry that is our life together as a family and a community. I for one don't want to miss those moments. Cancer has made life more vivid. It's making us stronger. It's forcing us to put our priorities in order and sending gentle reminders along the way of what's really important. Those are some big lessons.

Connie would love to hear from you. Package up your love and strength, good wishes and prayers and send them FedEx Overnight. Together, we can do so much more.

Good night. Sleep tight.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chemo Update from 10-11-11

Hi All,

Accompanied by Robert, Connie had her first chemo appt Oct 11. The procedure took about 4 hours. First a saline solution, then anti-nausea meds, then two chemo drugs were administered. When I spoke to Connie that evening she had a nagging headache, was tired, but otherwise feeling okay. Since then Connie has been back to work and has felt relatively well with the exception of a few side effects from the chemo. Because the chemo meds can be hard on the heart Connie had that checked out this week and should get those results back today or tomorrow. Chemo treatment #2 is scheduled for next week. 

Thanks again for your support. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Please join us in the fight!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chemo begins

Hi Everyone,

After discussing the next steps with a surgeon from the University of Wisconsin hospital and her current oncologist, it's been decided today that Connie will begin chemotherapy treatments right away. Tomorrow is the first one. Surgery will follow unless radiation is deemed necessary at that time. At this point it's more important to stop the possible spread of the cancer than it is to remove the tumor. Genetic testing will also be done at some point prior to surgery in order to determine if Connie is predisposed to the cancer gene. If so, a double mastectomy will be performed in order to eliminate any chance of having to revisit this whole scenario at some future point. Per the oncologist today, the first few chemo treatments are mega doses. She'll have one tomorrow and another in three weeks. From there they will occur more frequently. This chemo phase will last approximately 6 months and brings with it a whole host of possible side effects; one being the reduction in her white blood cell count, increasing her susceptibility to additional illness. 

The primary focus has been to get Connie into treatment. Secondary to that, is helping to relieve some of the costly burden which is going to continue well beyond original expectations. A benefit to help with this burden is in the planning stages. If you have any input, advice or firsthand experience you can offer in this respect please let me know. This is uncharted territory for us and we need all the help we can get.

Please keep Connie in your thoughts and prayers for strength as she begins the real fight tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Friday, September 23, 2011

MRI Results

Hi Everybody,

Connie got the MRI results yesterday. The MRI showed another tumor in the same breast and more DCIS (small suspicious spots found in the periphery). Connie and her physician agreed that a mastectomy should be the next step. She could have opted for another lumpectomy but that wouldn't guarantee that the DCIS wouldn't become tumors at some future point. If I'm away when the date for her second surgery is determined, I'll make sure someone else posts an update. Chemotherapy will follow surgery after a few weeks of recovery.

Thank you to all of you who have shown your support through words of encouragement and monetary donations. Connie and her family's financial situation will depend on newly found sources of income that we investigate and seek out daily. A fund raiser will be a priority come mid October. If you can offer experience in fund raising we can use your help. We can't do this alone and will need a team of angels to help organize an event of some magnitude. If you're able to make a donation, in any amount whatsoever, or perhaps donate from proceeds of your own fundraiser on Connie's behalf, we would be forever grateful. If you'd like additional information that could help with any fundraising effort, send me an email at ktlandes@yahoo.com and I'll provide you with any information I can. I'm out of town Sept 27-Oct 8 but will respond as soon as I possibly can. Thank you, thank you...

With love and deep appreciation for your kindess and support,

Monday, September 19, 2011

MRI Update

Hi Friends,

Just to update you, Connie went in for her MRI today. It will be a few days before the results are sent to her doctor and then read to Connie. At that point a second surgery will be scheduled. The extent of that surgery will be determined by the MRI results. We do know that chemo will follow the surgery. Hopefully we'll know more by the end of the week. I'll post another update at that time.

My primary care physician, Dr. Janelle Hupp, had almost the exact same type of breast cancer, even down to the size of the tumor and treatment protocol. I asked her to call Connie and share her experience and gratefully she did. She and Connie spent a fair amount of time talking one evening this past week. Three years cancer free now, Dr. Hupp, reassured Connie that she's on the right path. The advice given that meant the most was to simply relax. It's not only what Connie needed to hear, but what I needed to hear as well. It's been such a stressful time; the fear of the unknown always lingering in our thoughts most every minute of every day.   

The timing is bad, with Connie’s upcoming surgery, and we’ve certainly debated whether to cancel or not, but in the end John and I have decided to move forth with a trip we’ve had planned for over a year now with John’s folks in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary which was this past Sept 9th. We’ll be gone from Sept 27-Oct 9 and will most likely miss her surgery. I’m asking you to send your best to Connie during this time. If you’d like to post to the blog, send your email address to me at ktlandes@yahoo.com before Monday, Sept 26 and I'll add you to the list of bloggers and send you a link to follow. If you’d rather send a message via email. Her address is cmhicks100@yahoo.com. Send to her your positive thoughts, prayers, good karma, funny jokes, carrot cake... whatever you've got. Please help lift her spirits with the knowledge that you're thinking of her; that she's not alone, that this too shall pass.

All my best to you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wine Glass Donations

We have started our first fund raising effort here at my winery....

I started offering random wine glasses to any of our customers that donated 2 dollars or more to help Connie. So far it has been a great success, with many donors returning the glass for the next donor. We are contacting friends around the area here to chip in by donating any old, new or used
wine glasses that we can offer.
If anyone in the Geneva Lakes area would like to donate some glasses, they can drop them off at Ma and Pa Kalb's house 406 Maxwell St. Lake Geneva WI

We have a fall festival on Sept. 24th on which we will be doing a silent auction with all proceeds raised going to help Connie and her family ..... so far many of my friends who have never met Connie but understand how much she has touched my life are chipping in to help in this effort.

Also October is Breast Cancer Awareness month...and my wife Laura is working hard to arrange a month long membership drive for the "Snobby Little Wine Club" a group of cancer survivors who are dedicated to erasing this menace from our lives. Our hope is for every membership we sign up a portion of the fee will go to help Connie. Details will be forth coming.....

I urge everyone who has been blessed by having Connie grace their lives will take a moment to find a way to help.

On a lighter note....I do have some funny Connie stories and maybe a picture or too I might be willing to share if we reach our goals.........(shhh Connie I'm just bluffing....or am I ? :) )

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Permissions to Post

Hi Friends, I've been getting notes from folks saying they want to be able to post to Connie's blog as opposed to only commenting below one of the existing posts. If you're one of those people, send me an email at ktlandes@yahoo.com and I'll add your email address to the permissions list. You'll receive an email from me or John then with a link. Click on that link and follow the instructions. You'll then see at the top right of the blog a "New Post" menu option, available only to those who have requested permission. Click that option and post away. If you know Connie and know her sense of humor I know you'll come up with ways to make her laugh or at least smile.

If you don't care to Post, become a "Follower", shown at bottom of blog page and show Connie that there are many people thinking of her. The road is long. We're still waiting for an MRI before the next surgery can be performed. Waiting is so very hard.

Thank you for all the messages, prayers and well wishes received thus far. It means the world to us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Test results

Hi Everyone,

Test results came back from the surgery. The nodes removed from under Connie's arm were found to be negative, which is good news. That tells us the cancer is contained within the breast. The cancerous tumor was removed during surgery. There are still some questionable spots that should be removed and tested. An MRI has been scheduled and should provide additional information and also determine whether the other breast is affected at all. Nothing was found during the first ultrasound. A second surgery, after the MRI, will be scheduled to remove the questionable areas on the one breast's perifery, followed up by radiation therapy. In the meantime, a second opinion will be sought to confirm what we think we know so far. At this point, Dr. Adam Dachman, the surgeon from Upland Hills, feels that Connie is on the right track and could very well be a candidate for breast conservation, meaning a mastectomy may not have to be performed. So we're back to waiting...

Connie is still experiencing a fair amount of pain from the first surgery. The tumor removed was approximately 6 cm by 4 cm deep. She's experiencing some numbness in her arm, which is said to be termporary.

Connie would love to hear from you. Post a blog! If you're having trouble, let us know. I think you have to sign up or become a follower in order to post a blog. This is my first time with blogs, so if anyone out there can shed light on this, let us know through a post.

Thanks for your prayers and well wishes.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Blog Attempt

This being our first attempt at a blog and donation site, if you see any errors or changes that should be made please let me know through a comment or contact me at ktlandes@yahoo.com, or on Facebook.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hi Everyone!

This is the first of many posts you'll receive regarding my sister Connie's fight with breast cancer. Her surgery on Tuesday, August 23 was a lumpectomy and went well. The surgeon removed three affected lymph nodes. From what we've heard they were found to be smaller that originally suspected. This is good news. Connie should get the results perhaps tomorrow or next Tuesday when she goes in for her follow-up appt. Despite some lingering pain and stiffness, she is doing well, getting up and around. Thanks for your continued prayers and well wishes. Through this site Connie will be able to see your comments directly instead of word of mouth through me. I imagine she's getting tired of hearing from only me. :-)