Blue Earth, Minnesota
The 2013 Illini 4000 team met Thelma Frerichs in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Thelma’s husband passed away nearly 19 years ago from multiple myeloma, which he got at the age of 53 and was treated for in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. Thelma talks about her husband’s treatment, and the history of cancer in her husband’s family. Thelma’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and passed away at the age of 48. And now, at the age of 55, Thelma’s daughter has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and is awaiting chemo. During her interview, Thelma talks about caring for one another, coming together, and faith through it all.
We have always been close. My sisters and brothers and children all live close here. We have always been a close-knit family. So we got a lot of support from everybody.
Everybody was very kind to us. And when you live in a smaller community you get a lot more support because you know a lot of people. Even the doctors and nurses were kind, and then the contributions – they gave us gas money to go to Rochester. So that was a great help because it was very expensive, all those trips.
We talk a lot. The kids even. Since we were so close, we always talk. My grandson, who's 30 now, he likes to have stuff that my husband had. He got a big semi that my husband had and they just worshiped that thing. They always say, “Well, remember when grandpa did this?” They remember a lot of things. When he was going to Albert Lee once a week, he’d go pick up my grandson who was four then and bring him home for the weekend. So he spent a lot of time with him too when he was sick. But he wasn’t sick like he was sick sick; he could still be in the home and have company and feel he was – you know? We had a lot of people that would come visit him, so he had a lot of support.
Well, our church was one thing that helped very much, that we both went to church so that gave us a lot of support.
I always thought when I was going through all this, “He won’t give you more than you can handle.” And that always stuck in my mind, you know? That god won’t give me more than I can handle. And I always thought that the whole time, and that helped. And I still think that, because I’ve been alone all these 19 years.
Bryan Bailey Worland, Wyoming
Ryan Reardon Batavia, Illinois