Jamestown woman fights cancer for second time in three yearsWhen Adrian, N.D., native Teresa Steele finished her last of six months’ worth of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in December 2009, she was optimistic that her days of battling cancer were behind her.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
When Adrian, N.D., native Teresa Steele finished her last of six months’ worth of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in December 2009, she was optimistic that her days of battling cancer were behind her.
However, a routine six-month checkup this past May revealed that her cancer markers were higher than normal.
A subsequent PET scan then showed what doctors called a “hot spot” on Steele’s humerus — the bone in the upper arm — where they were concerned cancer cells may be accumulating.
Specialists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ultimately diagnosed Steele with metastatic cancer of the humerus. Metastatic refers to cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body.
Steele had originally battled breast cancer in 2009, but Steele said doctors told her the metastatic cancer cells originated from breast cancer cells that were still present in her body.
To help fight the cancer, Steele has to receive three radiation shots in her arm each month — something she said doctors told her was going to continue for a long time.
“They told me I’m probably going to require these shots for the rest of my life,” said Steele, who has already had 15 radiation treatments in Fargo and 12 shots at Essentia Clinic in Jamestown to battle the cancer.
Thus far, results have been positive and Steele’s doctors have told her that her cancer markers have already started to go down.
“Only time will tell, but the markers going down is supposedly an indication that it’s working,” Steele said.
However, each shot bears a sizeable medical expense, resulting in medical bills that have piled up for Teresa and her husband, Chad Steele.
“We had just paid off what was owed for treatments back in 2009 when we got the news the cancer was back,” Teresa said.
To help alleviate some of the cost, community members from Jamestown — where Teresa now lives and has worked for 32 years as an administrative assistant for the NDSU Extension Service/Stutsman County office — as well as surrounding towns like Montpelier, where Teresa attended high school, have formed a committee to hold a benefit in her honor.
“Teresa is a wonderful, caring person who always puts herself last,” said Deb Backer, member of the Teresa Steele Benefit Committee. “I grew up with Teresa and she was more like a sister to me than a best friend.”
Backer, along with six others including Gloria Marker, have been working for several weeks to organize the Aug. 3 benefit.
“She would do it for us in a heartbeat if it was us going through the same thing,” said Marker, who has been friends with Teresa for 34 years. “That’s why we feel we wanted to put on a benefit for her.”
Teresa has been nothing but humbled and grateful for the support she has received.
“Words can’t describe how much it means to me,” she said. “I feel so blessed to have such special friends and to live in such a community.”
Teresa said the radiation shots have led to side effects such as bone, muscle and joint pain, headaches and fatigue, but she is remaining optimistic throughout.
“I just know I have to keep a positive attitude. When I was diagnosed the second time, I remember my husband had tears rolling down his eyes. And then someone asked me how I was doing, and I said, ‘I’m fine. I’m OK. What do I now have to do to beat this thing?’” she said.
Teresa said she also could not have made it through this difficult time without the support of her husband.
“Chad has been so supportive and has spent hours upon hours being there for me and for my doctor’s appointments and the trips to Mayo and Fargo,” she said. “He is a dear and loving husband.”
The Teresa Steele Benefit Auction will begin with a hog roast dinner at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds in Jamestown.
A live auction, which Backer said includes hundreds of items such as a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle donated by Teresa’s father, Elvin Luck, begins at 6 p.m.
“We’ve got everything — lawnmowers, bikes, big-ticket items, you name it — so hopefully we can raise a lot of money and help put a Band-Aid on the medical expenses for now and provide some relief for Teresa,” Backer said.
Supplemental funds will be provided by Thrivent Financial. Tickets are $7 per person or $20 per family and are available at First Community Credit Union, with a benefit account set up at FCCU there as well for donations.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org