by Dennis Dalman
After a bone-marrow transplant and more than 100 days in a Twin Cities hospital away from her family, Mette Kirsch is so happy to be home again in Sauk Rapids.
There will be a spaghetti-supper benefit for the Kirsch family from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Sauk Rapids VFW. The event includes a silent auction and raffle.
Mette will be at the benefit, along with her husband, Jason and their children Elsa, 7, and Karl, 5. Mette has been a MathCorps tutor at Pleasantview Elementary School in Sauk Rapids and is active in the MOMS Club of Sartell/Sauk Rapids. It’s members of the MOMS Club who insisted they wanted to do a benefit for the Kirsch family.
The past decade has been a series of ups and down, shocks, reversals and roller-coaster emotions for the Kirsches. In 2004-05 Mette was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in her native Denmark where she and Jason were living. The two had met in Iceland, fallen in love and gotten married. Jason spent most of his growing-up years in the greater St. Cloud area. The couple moved from Denmark to Sauk Rapids in 2009. A year later, there were signs the cancer had returned. She was treated again for cancer and seemed to be just fine, with the disease in remission. By then, they’d had a baby daughter, Elsa.
A couple years later, Mette was pregnant again. The pregnancy posed problems because Mette was feeling very sick, but some cancer-detection tests could not be done because of the pregnancy. Then, one night, she gave birth unexpectedly at home, with her husband and a police officer officiating at the birth of baby Paul.
The early, unexpected birth was fortuitous, in a way, because then it became easier to diagnose and to treat Mette. By then, she had lost so much weight she was down to 94 pounds.
In the summer of 2012, Mette underwent a stem-cell transplant. Again her health improved.
In the fall of 2014, however, during a check-up, doctors discovered she was suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, a pre-leukemia condition.
She began a long series of chemo treatments to prepare her for a bone-marrow transplant, which was done in June, five months ago. Her recovery required 100 days in the University of Minnesota Hospital. Meantime, her parents, one at a time, came from Denmark to help Jason with the children and to help with so many other tasks. Jason’s parents and the couple’s many friends and well-wishers also chipped in.
At about the time the transplant occurred, Jason was laid off from his job as a teacher of German at St. John’s Prep School. As a result, he had to start paying the full cost of his monthly health-insurance premium. It was an extremely stressful, worrisome time. Fortunately, a bit later, Jason was hired as a teacher of French at the College of St. Benedict.
In an interview Oct. 20 with the Sauk Rapids-Rice Newsleader, Mette said the bone-marrow transplant appears to have been a great success and that she is happy to be home, even though she must still go to Minneapolis for follow-ups.
“Right now, we’re trying to figure out how to live a normal life,” she said. “Doctors said I will need a full year to recover my energy and a full life.”
The past few years, she said, have been a time to sort out so many emotions, including fear, during which she missed out a lot on the daily joys of family life because of her illness and hospital time.
“We’re figuring out family life all over again,” she said. “We’ve had an incredibly supportive family. How many people can say they are lucky enough and blessed to have two sets of living parents, like we do, even if two of them – mine – are an ocean away. They have been so supportive through all of this. People have been so good to us, including the incredible group of women (MOMS Club) who are putting on this benefit.”
Those who cannot attend the benefit but would like to help the Kirsch family can send a donation to Kirsch Family Benefit Account, Bremer Bank, 4150 Second St. S., St. Cloud, MN 56379.