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Kathy Bauermeister poses with husband Randy “Rambo” Bauermeister Wednesday at Sanford Worthington Medical Center, where Kathy completed her last chemotherapy treatment. Kathy was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in May of this year. A benefit will be Sunday to raise funds for ongoing medical expenses. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe

Cancer benefit for Kathy Bauermeister set for Sunday

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HERON LAKE — “You wake up, and your whole life is turned around,” Kathy Bauermeister reflected Wednesday as she spoke about her journey battling cancer.

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A benefit featuring a pancake breakfast and silent auction will be this Sunday at Heron Lake-Okabena Elementary School to raise money to cover her ongoing medical expenses.

Bauermeister, a longtime smoker, thought at first she was dealing with a cold that had been ongoing for two years. Little did she know she was experiencing symptoms of Stage 3 lung cancer. Finally, at the insistence of her sister, she begrudgingly went to the emergency room April 30.

“I had such horrific pains in my chest and my back,” Bauermeister began. “The pain was just excruciating. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t do nothing.”

Once in the emergency room, a scan revealed she had a mass in her left lung.

Bauermeister’s own mother died from lung cancer at age 72, following years of smoking.

“I thought, well, my sister and I smoke, but we’ve got 20 years. I’m only 57,” Bauermeister said. “I couldn’t believe it — lung cancer at 57.”

On May 1, she was transferred to Sioux Falls, S.D., for a biopsy, which caused her lung to collapse. Following an operation to reinflate the lung, she was finally able to return home a few days later.

After thoughts of enduring chemo and radiation, Kathy briefly contemplated giving up. Without any form of treatment, doctors predicted she’d have only two to six months to live. However, with treatment her time would be extended to upward of two years.

“I just thought at one point, ‘I’m not going to go through it all. I don’t want to lose my hair. I want to die in dignity,’” Bauermeister shared.

Ultimately, in spite of reservations, she chose to take the treatment.

“I got a little more time. I wasn’t ready to go yet.” Thus, seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation began.

Bauermeister has traveled to Worthington three to five days a week to receive treatments. Wednesday marked the last day of chemo for now. Doctors feel the treatment has worked well, but cannot be sure how much of the mass remains until inflammation of her chest, a side effect of the treatment, subsides.

“Due to the inflammation (from) the radiation and the chemo, they (doctors) can’t tell a whole lot until about November,” said Randy, Bauermeister’s husband.

Both Kathy and Randy cite a positive attitude as a big help in her battle along with help and support from doctors, family and the community at large.

“The support I am getting from friends and family and just everybody is keeping me going,” Bauermeister said. “Not every day is easy. There’s a lot of pain… (but) I’m very blessed with the support that I have.”

The benefit for Kathy will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. The silent auction, which features a variety of items including Minnesota Twins tickets, a diamond and sapphire bracelet valued at $8,000, multiple gift certificates and an eight-hour chartered fishing tour on Lake of the Woods, will end at 12:30 p.m.

Donations may also be sent in care of: L. Donovan 727 Moon Circle, Worthington 56187.

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