The Armstrong’s have been together for over 20 years but nothing could prepare them for the news they got in December of 2018. Dawn had found a lump in November and was then diagnosed with Stage 1 Grade 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma HER2- PR/HR+. Surgery was done on Jan 3rd to remove the tumor and 4 lymph nodes. The oncotype test results show that she has an intermediate chance of recurring cancer. The journey is just beginning, with 19 radiation treatments and 10 years of hormone therapy needed to keep cancer at bay… and hopefully away for good. Dawn continues her care at the Andreas Cancer Center in Mankato. Unfortunately, since finding the cancer and going through all of the appointments and treatments, they are not taking on new foster kids and Dawn has had to step away from taking a case load at work for now.
They feel with the support of their kids, grand kids, extended family and friends, along with a lot of prayer and positivism they will walk this journey side by side and celebrate life together!
At the end of November 2018, Christopher Utoft had some difficulty swallowing. He visited his primary care provider in December and was scheduled to do an endoscopy on January 4, 2019. A tumor was found in the lower 1/3 of his esophagus, which was biopsied. Christopher was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma Esophageal Cancer. A CT scan was preformed but the doctors would not stage it until an endoscopy ultrasound, and PET scan were completed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. On January 18, 2019, these scans showed that he has secondary malignancy in the liver and lymph nodes, giving him a stage 4 diagnosis. He started chemotherapy and radiation therapy immediately.
Christopher has been an Owatonna resident his entire life, raised by his parents: Gary and Jan Utoft along with his brothers: Tim and Jeff. He currently works at Cybex as a welder. His wife, Staci, works at Beauterre Recovery Institute and together they have 5 children: Dillin, Bowen, Harrison, Natalie, and Torrin, along with two Granddaughters: Peyton and Andi.
Christopher is courageous and has a strong spirit as he confronts this horrible disease which attacks so many people and does not play fair. He continues to make all of his family and friends laugh with his incredible sense of humor and wit. Christopher and his family are amazed at the generosity, support, and friendship from their family, friends, and the Owatonna Community. They feel truly blessed to be a part of the “From the Heart Run” family.
In April of 2018, Monica had pneumonia. After being on antibiotics, she went in for a follow-up appointment on May 4th. Her doctor was concerned because she was still having issues, so sent her to the ER for a CT scan. The ER doctor said that he had contacted a Lung specialist at Regions Hospital and was sending her there for more testing. On May 7th, Monica was diagnosed with Stage 4 incurable Breast Cancer that has spread to her lungs and bones.
Monica is doing her treatments through Health Partners and travels to the cities currently at least twice a month for appointments.
Cheryl Bastyr’s journey began in the fall of 2018 with stomach issues. At the beginning of December she went to the doctor and it was thought to have been possible acid reflux. After a week it still was not getting better. A colonoscopy and endoscopy were completed and tests came back great. A CT scan was then scheduled. A few days before the scan she ended up in ER with severe stomach pains. A CT scan was completed and a mass was discovered on the pancreas. Not a birthday present she wanted to receive that day. A biopsy in Rochester did show it to be cancerous. She has been undergoing a strong dosage of chemo here in Owatonna every other week. So far It has been going pretty well.
Cheryl has been a resident of Owatonna for 28 years. Family consists of husband, John; son, Andrew and wife, Emily and our fun loving 17 month old grandson, Eli; son, Jacob; and daughter, Anna and husband, Taylor. They are my strength and inspiration.
The outpouring of love, support, prayers, cards, from my family, St. Mary’s Family (where I teach 4th grade), friends, the Owatonna community and John’s coworkers have been so amazing and supportive. It’s very humbling! I have a boy in my classroom who had cancer when he was quite young and has been cancer free for many years. He is an inspiration to me, telling me I can beat this cancer just like he did! Another boy in my room composed a song about how I can beat this. He sang it at his family St. Patrick’s Day gathering. I may be their teacher, but they have taught me so much. I call my students and coworkers, my Saints at St. Mary’s.
My faith keeps me going on this journey. I could not do this without God in my life!
It is a true honor and blessing to be a part of “From the Heart Run” which shows such great support to those suffering from cancer.