Where The Popsicles Are-130

“A good hair cut always seems to help.”

By the time the 1st of October had rolled around, Joanie was getting back to work. She was feeling stronger every day, and was determined to get on with life, without focusing on what had happened a few days ago.

Joanie went in for the thoracentisis, and while we were expecting some improvement in her breathing after they took about half a liter of fluid off her right lung, it didn’t make any difference until about four or five days had passed. However, the improvement may have been due to the Prednisone Dr. Thomas had prescribed.

Thomas had also ordered oxygen for home use, and after I got it set up, Joanie only used it for a day or two. She didn’t seem to want to be bothered with it, and was getting around better anyway.

Her calendar began to fill up and she was working afternoons. Her hair was filling out again, now that she wasn’t taking chemotherapy, and that was helping her attitude.


We met with Dr. Thomas on the ninth, and he thought she was doing really well, in fact, I think he was surprised just a little bit.

There was only one incident that caused me some concern, and that was on the Saturday of Megan Smith’s wedding. Megan was the daughter of our long time friends, Pat and John Smith, and they had been and important part of our lives. Megan’s dad John, had died in 1983, when she was just a child and we had stayed close to Pat, her mom, her and Zac her younger brother all those years later.

Joanie had gone to the service, and I joined her at the reception. There were many of her friends there, and I think it was too much for her. We hadn’t been there that long, when one of our friends came up to me, and told me she thought Joanie wasn’t doing so well. I went to see her, and she wasn’t. She said she should go home, and we did. I took her home and got her settled in, and she seemed to relax and feel better, even though she felt bad about having to leave the reception. She insisted I go back to the reception and tell everyone she was okay, and had just overdone it for the day, and was really tired. I did as I was told.

A week later, she mentioned it briefly in an email to Barb Olson. Reading the email now, one can see how she doesn’t address the seriousness of her situation, choosing to focus on postitive things instead. That was typical of Joanie.

Her email:

“Hi Barb,

“I wanted to tell you how glad I was that I was able to see you and Robin at Megan’s wedding. Unfortunately I wasn’t doing very well. So I wanted to update you on where I am right now.

“It was great to see Al when he was in Bismarck. They came over to the office and we had a great chat. I think that you probably had something to do with that so thank you.

“Anyway I seem to be doing much better than in September. I know that Bob has talked to you but I thought I would email you and let you know how much better than I am doing than in September.

“I am working afternoons and that is going pretty good. I am not doing any chemo right now but taking a day at a time. Dr. Thomas is very pleased with how I am doing compared to in Sept. I think that my attitude has a lot to do with how I am doing and all of the support I am getting.

“I got my hair cut last week and I have had two people ask me if I had my hair colored. After the hair cut it is really dark and no grey!!! Also, some of my natural curl is coming back. Anyway a good hair cut always seems to help!!

“I got the nicest card and book from Kristie. It was very thoughtful of her. And I want you to know how much I appreciate all of the support and your great friendships means to both Bob and me.

“I know Bob will keep you up to date on everything.

“Al gave me a copy of the photo of your house. It looks great. Sounds like you are having a great time with your family close by.

“Please tell everyone I said Hi and hope all is well in the cities.

“Thanks again for being such a special part of my life.



This email is one of the few that I know of that she sent. There may have been others, sent from her office computer, but this one had been sent from home. She never rushed to send emails to our friends dealing with her situation, leaving that to me. It was easier for her that way.

We met with Dr. Thomas one more time in October, and that was on the 25th. I think he continued to be surprised at how well she was doing, and with the exception of the shortness of breath issue, especially when she exerted herself, she was doing fine. Pain continued to be an issue, but that was being managed with Dilaudid, and she was as active as she wanted to be.

With the holidays on the horizon, she was determined to live as if all of this was something of an inconvenience.


About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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