On May 6th, 2017, we honored the following families:
Nick Larson was diagnosed with stage 4, Grade 4, clear cell, renal cell carcinoma (Kidney Cancer) with a
5-10% sarcomatoid differentiation in December of 2015. He underwent surgery to remove his right
kidney and right adrenal gland two days later. In March of 2016, Nick experienced a couple of seizures
which led to the discovery that the cancer had spread to his brain and lungs. Two weeks later he
underwent a Gamma Knife procedure that was successful in treating the tumor in his brain. Nick has
undergone months of treatment both at the U of M Medical Center in Minneapolis and Mayo Clinic in
Rochester while fighting this disease. He spent the summer of 2016 undergoing High Dose IL-2
treatments at the U of M. After two months of IL-2 treatments he showed a positive response. The
following two months the treatment was deemed ineffective and the lung tumors had been noted to
grow. In September 2016, Nick was then started on another immunotherapy IV treatment which
required him to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester every other week. In January 2017 a scan showed
that this particular immunotherapy was not the most effective line of treatment. This led to Nick
starting his third line of treatment in early February 2017, an oral chemotherapy, to tackle the nodules
in his lungs. Nick is an Owatonna native (graduating class of 2000) and is married to Niki. He is the
proud father of Braydn (16) who is a sophomore at OHS, Kiya (11) who is a 5th grader at Lincoln
elementary and Ellie (10) who is a 4th grader at Lincoln elementary. Nick was last employed with RK&T
as a Mason and previously was self-employed remodeling homes. He enjoys spending time with his
family and watching his children in their many activities including soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball
and gymnastics. Niki works for Aerotek staffing and is the on-premise manager at Jostens in Owatonna.
Throughout his journey, Nick continues to show us what it means to have courage, perseverance,
humor and love. The Larson family feels blessed by the outpouring of support the Owatonna Community
has shown them over the last year.
Matt Ratzloff graduated from Owatonna High School in 2013 and most recently from Winona State University in December 2016 with a degree in Law Enforcement. He started his Law Enforcement Skills Program in January 2017 and was actively participating up until he was diagnosed with mono on January 12, 2017. Matt made multiple trips to the doctor as his mono symptoms progressively got worse. On January 25, 2017 Matt went to the Owatonna Hospital ER with a fever of 106 and was extremely weak. Doctors determined that he had severe pneumonia, he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit and subsequently transferred to Rochester Methodist Hospital as pathologists believed he had leukemia. A bone marrow test confirmed that Matt had Acute Myleoid Leukemia (AML). He was placed on an aggressive chemo regimen which included 24/7 chemo treatments for 7 days with an additional chemo push for 3 of those days. Since Matt began his hospital stay he has had to undergo a bronchoscopy procedure to retrieve lung tissue samples, two surgeries to place the Hickman line in his chest, he developed a blood clot in his arm from the PICC line and has received several blood transfusions…all in addition to his chemo treatments. After consulting with the doctors and his parents, it was determined that a stem cell/bone marrow transplant would be the best option for Matt and give him the best chance at a cancer free life. Both of Matt’s brothers were tested as they proved to be the most viable donors but it was determined that neither of them are a match. The doctors will now search the national registry and are very optimistic that they’ll find a match. Although the road to recovery will be a difficult one, Matt has a strong body, mind and spirit. He’s a man of great faith and is confident that he will beat this deadly disease. Matt’s immediate family includes his parents Kelly & Jeff and his siblings Josh, Ben & Maya. The entire Ratzloff family has been deeply humbled by the outpouring of love and support from the Owatonna community. Together, with all of the continuous love, support and prayers that are being sent to Matt and his family, he will get through this and come out better and stronger than ever. #ratzloffstrong
Marcy Jo Fenske:
In July 2016 Marcy Jo Fenske was diagnosed with stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer)
which had spread to levels I, II, and III of her lymph nodes. Following this diagnosis she began a 20-
week chemotherapy regimen and subsequent bi-lateral mastectomy. Radiation therapy and
reconstructive surgery are planned for later in 2017. Marcy and her husband John have lived in
Owatonna for the past 20 years, where she works as a Social Worker for the local county office, and
John works for Federated Insurance. They have three adult children, Jacob (24) of St. Paul, MN, Peter
(23) of Kenai, AK, and Sam (21) of Mankato, MN. Marcy and her family are amazed and humbled by all
the support, love and assistance provided by friends, neighbors, employers and co-workers throughout
the entire community. Marcy is also grateful for the Survivor Sisters Support Group of Owatonna.
Marcy Jo shares that she is a woman of faith and clings to the fact that she is a daughter of the King,
who promises to walk with her every step of the way.
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on Aug. 19th. I went from being a pretty healthy and active person to someone with cancer. It was tough news to hear. I was about to start my 37th year teaching physical education at St. Mary’s but instead I started my fight against cancer. I had pretty extensive surgery on the 29th of August and had a difficult recovery. My body didn’t want to clot so I had over 20 units of blood pumped into me to keep me alive. The Dr.’s worked overtime for me that night and I am grateful. Three weeks after surgery I started chemo. I was told I would have 18 treatments, one treatment a week. It was a series of six 3 week cycles. So it was off to Rochester every Thursday. After my first completed cycle I ended up in the hospital for a week with an infection. That put me a couple weeks behind with my therapy. I resumed again on Halloween and didn’t miss another treatment. I did have to have a couple of blood transfusions along the way though. I finished my last chemo treatment on February 9th. I will have some follow up appointments with my oncologist to see what will come next. As for my journey, I have had great support from my family, friends, St. Mary’s family and the rest of the community. It has been a humbling experience to see how many people care. I truly do appreciate all the support that I have had along the way.