Published On: Thu, Jun 8th, 2017

Caregivers are huge part of fight against cancer

LAUREL — Grandel McCorkindale knows about cancer.
She understands the disease from the perspective of both a survivor and as a caregiver. Grandel had breast cancer and her husband, Bob McCorkindale, is a 25-year cancer survivor.
Caregivers such as Grandel are often times overlooked, said Rick McDonald, a Randolph native who returned to Cedar County last week to speak at the Relay for Life event here.
“I realize we don’t give the caregivers enough credit for all they do,” McDonald said. “They are the real heroes.”
Grandel provided support for her husband and for her mother who was also diagnosed with cancer.
“It was hard seeing him deal with the effects from cancer,” she said.
Grandel was also a caregiver for her mother Clara Stewart, who lived in Sioux City. Clara underwent a lot of radiation and had chemo treatments.
When her mother was first diagnosed, the family had hoped she would be okay. It was different the second time she got cancer.
“It was inevitable what would happen the second time. It was hard,” Grandel said. “I would sit by her for hours during the treatments, but I would not have had it any other way.”
Ten years ago, Grandel and Bob’s daughter, Kim McCorkindale, was told she had sarcoma cancer.
Grandel was there to offer support but it was so hard to see their daughter go through all of the suffering from cancer.
The doctors had told her they might have to take her leg off below her knee. “They didn’t have to. They did take part of the calf muscle,” Grandel said. “She is doing good today.”
Grandel appreciates all of the support she had as a cancer survivor and as a caregiver.
“We depended a lot on our church family. We had a lot of support from our family. We had some awesome doctors,” she said. “I thank God for all the new technology they have now and all the new treatments.”
Three McCorkindale granddaughters are now nurses.
“I don’t know for sure, but I think seeing what my mom went through kind of influenced them to go into nursing,” she said.
Doug Krie, who lives north of Laurel, still has vivid memories of events that took place 25 years ago.
It was the year his wife, Lynette, was told she had cancer.
“It was 1992. Everything that first year was hard. She had lots of treatments – some days she couldn’t do anything,” Krie said.
Krie and his wife are familiar with what cancer can do.
“Lynette lost her dad to cancer and several uncles.  My dad had cancer,” he said.
Krie continues to support his wife as she helps in “The Fight” against cancer.
Krie was busy during the 2017 “Relay for Life” running errands, assisting others by providing rides in a golf cart and handling whatever needed to be done.
His wife, Lynette, was the chairman of this year’s Relay for Life held in Laurel.
Lynette has served on a committee, served as the chairman or has been involved with the Relay for Life since its beginning.
Relay for Life was held in Wayne the first year and for the past 16 years the event has taken place in Cedar County.
The Krei’s daughters also do a lot to help out at the Relay for Life and show their support for their mom.
Alissa and husband, Dustin Thompson, and Trisha and husband, Rusty Reifenrath, along with grandkids, were there to help in “The Fight” against cancer.
It brought tears to KayLynn Janssen’s eyes as she talked about her husband, Kevin Janssen, who died close to 12 years ago. KayLynn walked alongside her husband through all the struggles, the hopes and the fears a person has after hearing the word cancer.
She thinks of him every day and is thankful for all of the good memories she has of their life together.
Kevin had a brain tumor removed in 1998. He underwent radiation and chemo treatments, but was back at work by the first of the next year.
“He loved to work,” KayLynn said. “He worked for Theisen Construction and helped build bridges.”
Kevin was still working in 2002 when more symptoms appeared. Cancer was found in his brain but due to the location the doctors could not operate this time. An oral drug was used to treat the cancer.
It was a difficult time with lots of trips to doctor appointments and medical facilities. It was also necessary for KayLynn to keep her job in Yankton where she worked four 10-hour shifts each week.
“The insurance we had was through my job. I had to keep working,” she said. “When it was needed, family would come and stay with him at night.”
There were lots of health issues to deal with in 2004 and 2005.
KayLynn had taken Kevin to see the doctors in Omaha in 2004. When they got back home, Kevin made the decision to go to the nursing home in Randolph.
“He was having trouble walking and with his speech. It was right before his 47th birthday. It was his choice to go to the nursing home,” KayLynn said. “He was there from February 2004 until December of 2005.”
KayLynn found out she had breast cancer in November of 2004.
“Family and friends took me to the treatments I had to have,” she said.
KayLynn was with her husband every day she could be there. On the days she worked she was there from 11 a.m. until 2 in the afternoon.
“It was hard seeing him struggle. Kevin loved to visit and the last five months he could not do that,” she said. “The last month of his life, I would walk out of the nursing home and just start crying.”
Memories of the times they had together have been a comfort for KayLynn.
“I don’t regret one minute of our time together,” she said.
KayLynn has taken part in the Relay for Life almost every year since they started having it in Cedar County. Kevin walked in the Relay for Life a couple of the years.
KayLynn was with a team member for the Highway 20 Cruisers for 2017.