Adrian rallies to help man diagnosed with brain tumorADRIAN — There is something to be said for a community that rallies around its own, but for Kyle “Lenny” Lehnhoff of Adrian, a simple “thank-you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — There is something to be said for a community that rallies around its own, but for Kyle “Lenny” Lehnhoff of Adrian, a simple “thank-you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.
Lehnhoff may not have grown up in Adrian, but through his job as the school district’s computer technician and technology coordinator, his extended family reaches through the elementary, middle and high school student body and staff. That extended family has been a Godsend in recent weeks.
On the evening of Jan. 4, Lehnhoff was at home with his family — wife Jill and their four daughters ages 8 years to 7 months, Marisa, Olivia, Kamry and Charlee — when he suffered a seizure. He was taken to Sanford Luverne Hospital and then airlifted to Sioux Falls, S.D., where, after a series of MRIs and CT-scans, he was diagnosed with Grade 4 glioblastoma. He had a tumor about the size of a pea lodged in his brain.
“It’s a very fast growing tumor and it was in the part of my brain that causes seizures,” said Lehnhoff from his home Tuesday morning. Doctors say that while he had the worst grade possible, he is at an advantage because of his age — Lehnhoff is 33 — and because the tumor was still relatively small when it was discovered. Some brain tumors can grow quite large before they are detected, but because of the location of his tumor, the seizure signaled a problem.
In the time it takes to “snap a finger,” Lehnhoff said his whole life changed.
He underwent surgery on Jan. 7, when doctors removed as much of the tumor as they could without doing damage to the brain. Lehnhoff was then signed up for 6 weeks of radiation (33, 15-minute treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday at the Sanford Cancer Center in Sioux Falls), and prescribed chemotherapy pills to take every day.
As a volunteer for a special Mayo Clinic study, he’s also taking a one-dose-a-week medication developed for his type of cancer.
Now in his third week of the regimen, Lehnhoff is just starting to experience some of the effects of the treatment — mostly a feeling of tiredness.
He’s been told he could experience nausea, changes in skin and other illness, but so far he’s steered clear of those side effects.
When he’s finished with the six weeks of treatment, it will be followed with six weeks of no treatment.
“I will then take MRI scans to determine how things are looking,” he said. Already, doctors have planned for him to take double doses of chemotherapy treatment — five straight days, followed by three weeks off, and then repeating. That process could last anywhere from six months to a year,” he said.
The Lehnhoff family has received lots of help since the diagnosis. Both his parents and in-laws travel from their homes in Balaton during the week to help wherever needed.
At the same time, the school district staff is helping with meals a couple of nights per week and volunteers have helped with snow removal.
“(The meals) have been a huge help, keeping things kind of routine around here,” Lehnhoff said. “The generosity of the community, with cards, gifts of money and gas cards for transportation to Sioux Falls have been unbelievable. I can’t say enough thanks for the generosity they have given.”
The Adrian High School student council has designed T-shirts (the colors were selected by Lehnhoff’s two oldest daughters), with the phrase, “We will beat this!” The shirts will be available for sale during Thursday night’s girls’ basketball game versus the Fulda Raiders.
The game will serve as a major fundraiser for the Lehnhoff family, with events coordinated by Adrian girls basketball coach Randy Strand.
Admission to the game is a free-will donation (the boys basketball squad is paying for the game officials for the evening), and a burger feed is planned from 4 to 6:30 p.m., at the high school concession lobby.
All proceeds from the concession stand throughout the evening will also be donated to the Lehnhoffs, and Strand said Coke, Pepsi and Pizza Ranch in Luverne are donating product to help in the fundraiser.
“Not only is Kyle one of our colleagues, he’s a good friend to a lot of people in the school district,” said Strand. “It was nothing on Kyle’s part that they expected or asked for. Schools our size and communities our size, we just do it for the people. Not only are they friends, they’re part of us.”
The Thursday night game will also include Adrian youth basketball demonstrations — Lehnhoff and Corey VanBriesen started the program for kids in the first through sixth grades — and there will be a special awards presentation prior to the varsity game.
It’s also parents’ night. The games begin at 5 p.m. with C-squad, 6:15 p.m. for B-squad, and approximately 7:30 p.m. for varsity.
“(The fundraiser is) certainly not going to take away the medical costs, but we hope to make it a little more comfortable — we’re going to make a small dent in (the bills), but hopefully be a big comfort for them,” Strand said. “We’re just hoping to have a fun evening.”