Support for Debra Lindland's Cancer Recovery

Background:

At Thanksgiving of 2019, Debra developed a sore throat, followed by an upper respiratory “bug” that lingered on and on. Debra's PCP, concerned that the soreness was limited to one side of her throat, referred her to an ENT doctor.  A previous history of malignancy in her throat a few years prior made the condition that much more concerning.

On February 25th, after suffering from unbearable throat pain, difficulty swallowing foods or liquids, breathing difficulties, exhaustion, and weight loss, Debra had her tonsils removed at Sky Lakes Outpatient Surgery Center. A biopsy revealed that the swollen tonsil was indeed malignant.  A PET scan revealed that the malignancy was stage 1, confined to the throat and had not spread elsewhere, which was good news! But further surgery was advised.

Then the Covid pandemic hit, and hospitals were limiting all surgeries except emergency surgeries.  Her doctor gave her a couple of alternatives, one being “wait for the surgery ban to be lifted and travel to OHSU in Portland for at least 5 days of surgery and hospitalization” and another being to undergo 7 weeks of radiation on her throat, here at home in Klamath Falls, in lieu of surgery. Both options being essentially equal in benefit, Deb chose the second option which would keep her out of the hospital during the pandemic and remaining at home. However, before the radiation could be started, she would need to have all her teeth removed because of the potential for infection which could require more drastic and disfiguring surgery after radiation. 

After searching for over a month for a local oral surgeon who would bill Medicare, Debra's only health insurance, on April 20th, Debra went to OHSU for a consultation, chauffeured there by her good friend Joanne Skinner, and met with a team of doctors.  She was told that the tumor had grown too close to the jaw bone, so surgery to remove it was no longer an option. So, the following day on April 21st she underwent day surgery in Portland to have all her teeth removed, a painful procedure but necessary.

While her gums healed, Debra continued to lose weight and was limited to a very soft diet and liquids. Being a resourceful woman, she ordered a kit off Etsy to make a set of dentures to fit in her mouth while she continued to heal, and until she could have permanent dentures made. She made herself two temporary sets of dentures which worked in the interim time to give herself a means to chew somewhat.  As her gums continued to heal, she was ready to begin the weeks of radiation therapy.

The first week of May, she started the radiation therapy.  As any cancer survivor knows, radiation is not an easy treatment and can have many unpleasant side effects (blistery skin, tender raw spots in the throat, and changes in taste), so Debra was excited when her doctor told her that she would need six weeks of radiation, not seven. Throughout the grueling days of radiation, she continued to spend quality “therapy” time with her beloved horse Sophie and her dog Ruby the “Roobster”, and encouraged by her many supportive friends.

On June 18th, Debra celebrated the last day of radiation! In spite of her elation, and though most of the treatment was uneventful, the last two weeks she was struggling with nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, and exhaustion. She was hospitalized on June 26th for a few days so the medical team could get her rehydrated and to pump some much-needed nutrition into her, via a feeding tube, which remained in for a week until it became too painful.

By mid-July, Debra was starting to enjoy eating a wider variety of foods, using her homemade dentures.  And by early August, Deb was ready to start the process of getting her permanent dentures made.  Because of her mouth and gum problems, and the cancer history, good nutrition was paramount to her recovery. She and the dentist agreed upon a quality set of dentures at a premium price that were best suited for her needs, and after removal of bone spurs, and making wax molds, she was confident that the new dentures would be coming soon.

In September, however, the permanent dentures had been twice delayed. Deb had lost 30 pounds throughout this ordeal, and was desperate to be able to eat again, and explained to the dentist that it was imperative that the process be expedited so she could get some nutrition. By the end of September, the dentures were ready. She went in to get them, only to discover that they were NOT the premium dentures she had ordered, but a basic denture that was bulky and loose. They were, in fact, not even as good as her homemade “Etsy” dentures.

For the last month, she has “gone to battle” repeatedly over the dentures, and while the dentures-provider states that they will guarantee her satisfaction, they are not making good on that promise in a timely manner. Her health continues to deteriorate due to lack of adequate nutrition. At the current time, Debra is facing another PET scan and additional testing because of difficulty swallowing and other issues.

Current situation and definition of need:

Debra is going to have to find a dentist who will make her a quality set of dentures, quickly and correctly, as her health continues to deteriorate and she is facing further health problems if she cannot immediately turn-around her declining health. Debra also continues to face additional medical testing, extended trips to Portland for specialists, and most likely, continuing medical expenses. Her deteriorating health and exhaustion make it increasingly difficult for her to work at her self-owned businesses, Graphic/Web Design, as well as  of saddle and tack cleaning and conditioning, and she is forced to rely solely on SSI. 

 My goal as her friend, with the support of her many other devoted friends, is to raise $5,000 or more to cover a quality set of dentures and to establish a “rainy day fund” to cover the expected expenses of travel, unforeseen expenses, and any additional non-Medicare covered medical procedures or equipment that may arise in the coming months as a result of her cancer illness. Thank you for your support, both emotionally and spiritually, and financially! Debra thanks you as well. Please watch here for updates!


Wendy Mathews Millard (friend of Debra Lindland)

Klamath Falls, Oregon

10/12/20

Donations

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  • Anonymous 
    • $40 
    • 2 d
  • Michelle Gessner 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
  • Clark Pederson 
    • $50 
    • 6 d
  • Joanne Skinner 
    • $100 
    • 6 d
  • Kori Crutcher 
    • $50 
    • 7 d
See all

Organizer

Wendy Millard 
Organizer
Klamath Falls, OR
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