Donna Kipka Cancer Victim

At the beginning of the year my sister Donna was doing what a lot of us do and started exercising.  A couple days after starting her exercises, she felt some abdominal pain.  She felt she might have over done it, and backed off for a couple of days, until she started feeling a better.  She than started again with a lighter regime of exercise, again she felt some abdominal pain, and again backed off the exercise.  This time however the abdominal pain did not go away, and continued to get worse. 

After a week and a half of it not going away she went to the doctor.  The doctor ran some tests and had a CT scan done to see what might be going on.  After the scan and he told her the worse news we all could hear.  Donna was diagnosed with Colon Cancer.  The doctor also told her there were some spots on her liver, and wanted her to have a biopsy on her liver to determine the cause.  After the biopsy Donna had an appointment with an Oncologist to review the findings and determine the strategy for treatment. 

At this point, I only knew that Donna was diagnosed with Colon Cancer and decided I needed to be there for her Oncologist appointment for both moral support and to help with understanding what next steps would be.  Our mother Ruby, Donna’s daughter Cheyenne, and myself went with Donna to her Oncologist appointment.  We all knew this was serious and most likely would require surgery and also other treatments to help Donna fight this disease.  However the news we got from the Oncologist was much worse than we expected.  The Oncologist told us that the cancer had spread to her liver and other parts of her body.  She also said that it was inoperable and this was stage 4, and that Donna only had 5 to 8 months to live.  Are hearts all sank as we heard the news and saw the disbelief of my sister’s eyes.  Death had just knocked on her door.

After the Oncologist appointment we as a family talked and decided that a 2nd opinion was a good idea as we had nothing to lose and decided to turn to the Mayo clinic in Rochester.  We hoped that maybe they would have a better outcome or maybe a better treatment plan that could maybe extend her life a little more.  Donna really wanted to see her daughter Cheyenne graduate from school, and that became her goal.  We also talked about all the things that we needed to take care.

On March 2nd we went down to the Mayo Clinic for her to have tests done and then on Monday March 5th we had a follow up appointment with the Oncologist at the Mayo for what we hoped to be better news.  What we got was even worse news then before.  This time we were told Donna was in liver failure and that the she only had days to weeks. Again death knocked on her door.

That week my mother Ruby, my niece Cheyenne, and I took care of Donna at her home.  As her pain steadily worsened, we called and setup the in-house hospice, which changed her medication and helped us to manage her care. At that point all we could do was to make Donna more comfortable.  Donna passed away Friday March 9th sometime between 8:30am and 9:15am.

Donna is in heaven now and at peace.  However she left behind a wonderful daughter Cheyenne and she is the one this fund will be helping.  Cheyenne is still in high school and is needs help to be able to stay in the only house she has ever known.  To do this she will need our help.  Her monthly expenses for the Mortgage and utilities will be around $1500.00 per month.  We will be applying for Cheyenne to receive Social Security Benefits, but sadly that will not kick in for a few months and when they do most likely will not cover all of those expenses.  Cheyenne also is planning on going to college next fall and may need additional money to help her achieve her goal of being a certified lab technician.  Please do what you can to help my niece Cheyenne in my wonderful sister Donna’s memory. 

Thank you and God bless you all.
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Douglas Schwanke 
Monticello, MN
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