In 2020, we are honored the following families:
He knew something was off. The feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, and cloudy headedness were getting more noticeable to Mark Woodrich. His wife Steph felt something was off too but neither could pinpoint what the issue was. The symptoms were general enough that they could be ignored for awhile. After all, many people who run their own businesses, work full time, and raise young kids experience those overwhelming feelings of being tired, overworked, and having a full plate.
Mark carried on running his new business and lifelong dream, The Music Space of Owatonna, along with continuing his real estate career with his wife and business partner, Steph at ERA Gillespie Real Estate. Life was full, busy, and good with their two girls Molly (11) and Leah (10). Still, Mark was acting different, and his level of focus was off. A few visits to the local docs yielded no answers – so the Woodrich family carried on as a happy family unit.
The symptoms became more noticeable in August 2019, and some medical incidents landed Mark in the Saint Mary’s emergency room in Rochester. Things moved quickly after that, and before they knew it Mark was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer where the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells. Steph and Mark were devastated – they had big plans for the immediate future as well as the long -term future – and cancer was getting in the way. Additionally, the doctor was using words like ‘incurable’ and ‘malignancy’ – terms that no one wants to hear. Telling their daughters was the hardest thing to do, both girls adore their dad and Steph confirms with a smile that he is definitely the fun parent.
Since August, Mark has required seemingly endless testing, chemotherapy treatment once each week, as well as many other medications to keep things in check. This has required much time away from work for both parents and has limited Mark’s ability to work and run The Music Space. The medical expenses and time lost at work due to treatments have been huge burdens for the Woodriches. Starting in February Mark will undergo a Stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) which is the best course of treatment right now, and has the potential to put Mark into remission. This involves both Mark and Steph to stay in Rochester for up to 6 weeks post-transplant, away from their jobs, away from their daughters while Steph serves the role as Mark’s full-time caregiver as he recovers.
We are beyond honored and humbled to be part of From the Heart. It feels like the entire community is wrapping their arms around us in a huge hug and we need that right now. The love and support we’ve received already from our friends, family, and our work family at ERA Gillespie Real Estate has been incredible. We still have a long road ahead of us, and knowing we have all of this support truly warms our hearts and alleviates some of the worry so we can concentrate on getting Mark healthy again!
Jon and his wife Lori have called Owatonna home for almost 40 years. Their four adult children Brittney, Brady, Libby and Drew are proud OHS graduates. The Osmundsons have also welcomed Shelby, Samantha, Kristy and Zak to their family…and love being called “Papa” and “Gramma” by grandchildren Zoey and Koby and look forward to another grand baby due this summer.
Jon’s cancer journey began early March of 2019. His feet tingled, balance was off and he battled extreme fatigue. Jon thought he was dealing with a pinched nerve in his back. His symptoms continued to worsen forcing a visit to his primary doctor in Owatonna then a referral to Rochester. The doctors discovered Jon had a tumor on his brain. On July 3rd he had surgery to remove the tumor. Unfortunately, due to the size and location of the tumor the doctors were unable to remove all of it. The pathology report came back positive for Grade 3 Hemangiopericytoma, a very rare form of cancer. Jon underwent physical therapy to gain strength and mobility then 30 rounds of radiation.
Everyone was thankful for Jon’s clear MRI scan in November 4th. Due to the aggressiveness of this cancer it will be necessary to have a scan every 3 to 6 months. Owatonna’s basketball program has been a part of the Osmundson family for 20 years. In addition to cheering his boys on, Jon also coached OBA and summer leagues, he will always treasure those memories. Jon and his family feel extremely blessed, thankful and humbled by all of the love and support they have receive from family, friends and the amazing community of Owatonna. Everyday is a gift. Jon’s words to live by are “Don’t take the highs too high or the lows too low”.
At the end of August 2019, Nova Lee Maas had been feeling weak and dealing with a persistent low grade fever. On Labor Day her skin started to have an olive tint and so she was taken in to the Same Day Clinic. She did not return home from this trip for over three weeks as she was taken to Rochester. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and an aggressive chemotherapy plan was started immediately. She has been receiving care from some of the best doctors, nurses and patient care staff in the entire world at the Mayo Clinic and St. Mary’s Hospital ever since.
Nova has been fighting every day since her diagnosis. She is nearly done with chemotherapy which should be finished in March 2020. She turned 8 years old in January while in the hospital and she has been receiving tutoring from Lincoln Elementary a few hours each week. She looks forward to finally sitting down in her 2nd grade classroom before the end of the year. Nova loves unicorns, Superhero girls, making people laugh and going disc golfing with her dad.
Nova and her family have received such unbelievable support from friends, family and the entire Owatonna Community. Her three older sisters, Sabella (17), Sofia (12), and Carlin (10) have had their own lives inexorably altered forever, yet they have been resolute and dedicated to Nova (and each other) throughout this process. Her parents, Emily and Nate Maas, have lived in Owatonna since 2007. Nate is an Assistant Store Leader at Kwik Trip and he looks forward to having his disc golf caddie back by summer. Emily is a nurse at the Same Day Clinic where Nova was brought in last fall and has been at Nova’s side caring for her from day one.
Nova may have lost most of her hair, but not her spirit. Nova is still an outgoing, loving, and incredibly smart young person. She has faced issues many adults have not had to deal with, and she does it all with a winner’s attitude. She has become a role model and hero for everyone that knows her. She is Owatonna’s Super Hero. She is Super Nova. Cancer doesn’t stand a chance.