“There is a person, who has in some way, shaped, or formed and positively touched our lives. Now, that person needs us to positively touch hers,” said event emcee Doug Bradley, referring to Wendy Hartlieb.
On Dec. 9, 2014, Wendy, 48, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, after her doctors initially thought she had pneumonia.
Her husband, Chris, said he could sense that there was more something seriously troubling with his wife, who was feeling sick on Thanksgiving Day. However, Chris doesn’t know how his wife, who grew up in Griggsville, Ill., got lung cancer.
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“Neither Wendy nor I smoke,” he said. “Our two children, Geoff and Hannah, are also non-smokers.”
She recently finished her fourth round of chemotherapy, and appears to be doing better, according to Chris. Her doctors also earlier saw some shrinkage in her tumor, following her second round of chemotherapy, he said.
“As you are on this journey, you learn cancer two battles are never alike,” Chris said.
Wendy has since returned home. She had another doctor’s appointment on Thursday of last week.
“It went OK,” Chris said on Sunday. “Things were pretty much status quo.”
Wendy and Chris, who will celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary in June, were unable to attend the March 21 benefit. Chris, however, sent Bradley a text prior to the trivia contest.
“The realness of this event is hitting home,” his text said, which Bradley read to the crowd. “I want so badly to express to all of you how much this means to us. It’s difficult to understand and impossible for to put into words our feelings right now.
“Having people, selfless people, willing to commit time and energy on our behalf in our life is quite a special thing. Please know how intensely grateful and touched are by your kindness. But it will never be forgotten. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
In a March 17 post on Facebook, Wendy wrote she had been receiving cards, texts and emails from well-wishers and people daily, inquiring about her condition. She said she enjoys hearing from everyone.
“I must confess that the outpouring of love and concern has been unbelievable,” she said. “I am feeling the love from all corners to be sure, and I am forever grateful and deeply touched by all the words of encouragement.”
Wendy said she is feeling a little better and a little stronger each day.
Wendy is a “pretty tough person,” Chris said. “And her strength amazes me,” he said.
Wendy said, while the road ahead of her is long, so far, her body has responded well to treatment. After her second round of chemo, a scan was done, and it showed “striking improvement,” according to her doctor.
“There was good shrinkage of the impacted areas in my lung,” Wendy said in her Facebook post.
She underwent a similar scan on Tuesday of last week. While there are no guarantee this scan will show similar progress, she is hopeful it will carry more good news.
While Wendy is still on oxygen full time, her requirements have decreased in recent days, and she is now able to go a few hours without any oxygen.
Her next step at home is to build endurance and become more mobile.
“Right now, I am able to walk to short distances between rooms. I have been able to sit on the deck for short periods oxygen free as well,” she said.
The Hartliebs are assuming that if Wendy continues to gain strength, she will have another procedure soon to collect additional tissue samples for analysis. Her doctor does a great deal in gene mapping and attempting to identify the specific cell malfunction that has caused her cancer.
“Doing so in my case could lead to targeted chemo that has had excellent results,” Wendy said via Facebook. “If you are inclined to do so, please feel free to pray for this process to be successful. In that spirit, I would like to thank everyone for your prayers and well-wishes. We will take every one that we can get.”
Wendy and Chris said her family is managing as best as can be expected.
“The kids are still at school (hopefully studying hard) and Chris is working and coaching around the medical schedule,” Wendy said.
In the meantime, the Hartliebs are continuing to draw strength from the Highland community and by everything it has done and the love they have shown us.
“Words won’t ever begin to touch the deep thanks we feel,” Wendy said. “Hopefully I will be able to thank everyone in person in the not-too-distant future. Until then, know that you have touched our hearts.”