Sometimes life is unfair

Stükenberg is jaw-dropping

(Published Nov. 30, 2006, 5:00 p.m.)

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

Sometimes there's a story of fate that is so unfair it's unimaginable. It pops back into your head as you drive down the road, cook dinner or lie in bed at the end of the day.

The story of the Meyer family, of Elkhorn, is one of those stories. Jerry and Sheila Meyer work hard and do their best to raise their children Tyler, 6, and Ciara, 4. Then out of the blue they get bowled over by circumstances so big that they're unable to take it on themselves, though not for lack of effort.

For the third time in her 40-year life, Sheila is battling cancer. Twelve years ago she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Two years later it recurred. Twice she licked it.

Then almost exactly 10 years to the day, Sheila noticed a warm area on her breast and decided it was unusual enough to see her doctor.

It was cancer, and one of the most aggressive cancers out there-inflammatory breast cancer.

"It's the worst kind of breast cancer there is," said close friend Teresa Drogemuller. "(Many times) by the time you know you have it, it's already spread."

Unfortunately, this is the case. The cancer has already spread to Sheila's liver and bones, among other places, classifying this as a terminal diagnosis.

But she hasn't given up and is having weekly treatments of the highest possible dosage of chemotherapy while keeping two jobs, one as a preschool teacher at Step Ahead Preschool Center, LLC and at the deli counter at Frank's County Market, both in Elkhorn.

Meanwhile, Jerry is working 12-hour days, seven days a week at his relatively new-formed business, Meyer Saw and Tool Limited, 208 Hallberg St., Delavan, 740-0038.

But even with work ethics of this caliber, the Meyers are rapidly falling behind financially due to the astronomical medical bills and living expenses only to be exasperated by Sheila's probable inability to continue working.

And to make matters more stressful, their health insurance company has informed them that within a month Sheila will need to travel to get treatment due to policy changes-making treatment possibly undoable.

"If this happens, I don't how know how we'll get her there," Drogemuller said.

Sheila's strength and determination has inspired her close friends, Drogemuller and Jody Junk. The family's ongoing and increasing hardships have triggered their desire to help by organizing a fund-raising benefit set for Sunday, Dec. 3 beginning at 2 p.m. at Two Seasons Bowl, 830 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn. For more information, call 723-4047.

"Jerry is a sweetie and such a hard worker," Drogemuller said. "And Sheila's holding in there. They are such great people. They work so hard and are just people with the biggest hearts."

Through all of this it's been Sheila herself who has made her friends laugh when they're feeling sad and scared about her future.

"She's an awesome person," Drogemuller said laughing. "She has the best sense of humor-she's just a goofball. There have been times where I'm crying and she says, 'Get over it, we have stuff to do.'

"The day we found out and were so upset, she said, 'You guys, if I have to go to work, you have to go to work, so get up and let's go.'

"And at her job at the preschool, the kids have watched her hair fall out. To make them feel better and not be scared she just says, 'Look, I look like an orangutan.' It's the things like that that she does to make everyone else feel better."

The Sheila Meyer Benefit Fund Bash for Cash is Sunday, Dec. 3 beginning at 2 p.m. at Two Seasons Bowl. Bowling is a nine-pin-tap with cash prizes for first, second and third place. Cost is $50 per bowler. Also scheduled are meat raffles, 50/50, silent actions with tables closing hourly. Food, soda and a cash bar are also available. Bowling sign-up sheets are available at Frank's County Market, 58 Market St., Elkhorn or by calling 723-2996, and Two Seasons Bowl. Donations may also be mailed to the Sheila Meyer Fund, Peoples Bank, 837 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI 53121.

Inflammatory breast cancer

Women generally look for lumps signaling breast cancer, but few know to also check for the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

It is a relatively rare (1 percent to 5 percent of all breast cancers) but very serious, aggressive type of breast cancer.

IBC is commonly misdiagnosed as an infection because of its symptoms, rarity, because many doctors have never seen it and it has not been studied as much as other types of breast cancer. But infection is more likely to happen for a reason, such as breastfeeding. Infections go away with proper antibiotic treatment, but IBC does not respond to antibiotics.

IBC symptoms:

*Redness of part of or the whole breast that may come and go.

*Swelling, enlargement and/or hardness of part or all of the breast.


*Orange-peel appearance, pink, bruised, ridges, welts or hives of the breast skin.

*Swelling of lymph nodes under the arm or above the collarbone.

*Flattening or inversion of the nipple.

*Source: National Cancer Institute




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