Joyce's Critical Junctures Timeline


This timeline illustrates critical junctures in my life from the year 2008 to today.  

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September 2008
September 1 (Monday)  
Exchange Daughters Enlighten me about life...

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I host one of my very first foreign exchangestudents.  This was quite an adventure for myself as well as my Australian(now American) daughter.  This was the beginning of her journey to livehere.  Along her journey she taught me many things about life in Australiacompared to life in America.  This was an extremely educational andenlightening experience for both of us.  We also both added to our family. My family became hers and hers became mine.  I overlapped myAustralian daughter's (Christine- 'Steen') stay with my German foreign exchangedaughter's (Ann Kathryn-Anni) stay. So all of us learned from and grew to loveone another very much!  This was an amazing and enlightening experiencefor all of us!  

January 2009
January 7 (Wednesday)  
Dad becomes a heavenly angel...

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I lost one of my most important teachers, role models and men in my life.  My Dad . . . <3 I wrote him this short letter upon his death.


You are a model of LOVE to all of us. You have been a model of Faith, Hope & Love even in the face of life’s painful lessons and despite those who have hurt you. Your love and forgiveness for ALL of God’s children is ever-enduring and everlasting. . . it is eternal!

Today, Dad, God holds you in the palm of his hand, he lifts you up and embraces you with arms wide open. He is proud of you and all that you have done including all the quiet & unnoticed acts of kindness & love. Know that the love I have for you is deeper then you can imagine and that it is nearly indescribable.

Thank you Dad for sharing so much love with so many of God’s children including me…

With Eternal Love Always. . .

Your Daughter,

Joyce ☺

October 2009
October 23 (Friday)  
Congenital Heart Defect Surgery - U of M

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Had a severe choking incident in September of 2009.  This incident was one of many but the difference this time was that I almost didn't get the object to come out and nearly fainted.  (I am, otherwise, a self-Heimlich Maneuver Master.) I went in and the doctor said all this choking is not normal.  They set me up for several esophageal exploratory tests. They discovered: arteries going the wrong way;   a bulging aneurysm on the aorta and a vascular ring constricting the esophagus and trachea. I was sent to the U of M and sat across from a panel of doctors pediatric and adult heart specialists.  They looked at me is if I were a ghost! They even said that they could not believe I was still here.  This condition could have killed me when I was a child.  They said they had never seen anything like me before! (This became something I would hear often in my future! =) ) They laid out the options.  I could have the heart surgery to correct but it was tricky and I could lose my life.  They said I could go on as I have and potentially lose my life.  What a choice!  A very tough decision came ahead.   I asked the doctors what they would do.  They said they would have the surgery.  I had the surgery. ... 

March 2011
March 25 (Friday)  
5 Tumors!! Uteral Cancer

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Quite a journey led me to Maplegrove hospital where they removed five tumors and my uterus.  They removed a volleyball, baseball and three pool ball-sized tumors as well as my uterus.  Pathology did come back indicating cancer stage two.  This was really my second form of female cancer removed in my life so far.  I did have to go to counseling as I would no longer have the ability to conceive children.  A very critical juncture for me as I did really always want a family.  I just accepted that it was not in God's plan as He wanted me to have enough energy for working with other people's children.  ; ) 

March 2013
March 18 (Monday)  5:45 AM
Kidney Cancer Surgery

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This was my longest procedure so far! This was a six hour procedure on my horseshoe-shaped kidney.  The doctors at the Mayo Clinic were great!  They were personable, thorough and fun! These are qualities I love in medical staff.  Since my heart surgery they have learned that I can not have ANY narcotic pain killers.  So I have to endure whatever pain the surgery may bring about.  I could take Tylenol and Ibuprofen but in this surgery they didn't really recommend that due to blood thinning.  The did forget some of my allergies & intolerances.  They used morphine when it was on my charts not to.  Morphine exacerbates my pain.  I am difficult to have as a patient with all of my allergies and intolerances it is extremely hard to figure me out! 

The surgery was successful and I continue to be kidney cancer-free!! One more round of screens next year and I graduate to completely Kidney CANCER-FREE!! Yippee!!!  

November 2013
November 7 (Thursday)  
From Gastroenterology to Nephrology- Overcoming Kidney Cancer

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After extensive gastroenterology testing it was finally discovered that I actually had kidney cancer.  November 7, 2013 was the date I received the phone call that I had it.  Essentia, Duluth, nephrology specialist called me to tell me that I should not bother with an appointment with him as though he was good at what he does he could not handle my kidney and cancer.  These procedures revealed that my kidney was also a birth defect and the positioning of the kidney and the cancer made the procedure extremely difficult.  My healthcare coverage would not cover the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.  Dr. Hoffmann at Essentia wrote letters for me to be covered to be seen by a specialist at the Mayo Clinic.  In order for this to be approved there was a long journey of seeing other doctors who had to document that they could not handle my situation.  Eventually this was a procedure covered by insurance! 

August 2016
August 31 (Wednesday)  
Double Mastectomy -Reconstruct- Kicking It Like a Girl!!

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In the summer of 2016 doctors and I discussed the option of double mastectomy- reconstruct.  This was because every mammogram I have had in the past several years has led to 1-2 more.  Having 2-3 mammograms a year is not an ideal preventative health situation.  Then in my mammogram just before this procedure 'righty' was being 'suspicious.'  I was a perfect candidate for the double-masectomy reconstruct procedure.  I had this eight- hour procedure, which was now my longest procedure ever, at CentraCare Hospital in St. Cloud.   Two amazing surgeons worked on me that day! Dr. Schmidt performed the mastectomy and Dr. Houle the reconstruct!  LOVE these doctors!! Wonderful with their patient relations, through and funny!! 

Kicked BREAST Cancer Butt that day!! =)

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