By: Judy Burdell | Category: Other | Issue: April 2009
Linda Schnitzer (right) and her mom, Jan Williams of Wichita, KS. Linda is surviving cancer thanks to her positive attitude, an unwavering faith in God and a number of angels in her life.
Linda Schnitzer is surrounded by angels. In December of 2006, she was diagnosed with a kidney infection and told that she was going through early menopause. In July of 2007, Linda started hemorrhaging and was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors determined she needed a complete hysterectomy to remove fibroid, pre-cancer tumors. During the surgery, the day of her daughter’s 21st birthday, a doctor found what he believed to be a fibroid tumor the size of a grapefruit and couldn’t complete the procedure. Three days later, Tulsa oncologist Dr. Y. C. Choo delivered a startling diagnosis: advanced stage cervical cancer. Dr. Choo referred Linda to Dr. Daron Street, who performed the surgery that undoubtedly saved Linda’s life. Angels #1 and 2: Dr. Choo and Dr. Street.
Enter St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa. Linda, a single mother of three, was employed full time but had no medical insurance. Any concerns regarding how the medical bills would be paid were allayed when, through a counselor at St. John's, Linda discovered that the American Cancer Society and SoonerCare had a special program for breast and cervical cancer patients. The program, funded by money from a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, would cover all of Linda’s medical bills: twelve surgeries, medication, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Angel #3: her counselor.
Relieved that her surgery and subsequent treatment would be covered, Linda was concerned about losing her job as appointment coordinator for an Owasso dentist. Her boss, Dr. Mark Argo, soon removed that worry. He has continued to pay Linda, whether she worked or not. Linda's co-workers have taken over her work duties, checked on her daily, provided meals for her family, and continued to give her the support she needs to focus her energy on the fight against cancer. Angels #4 and 5: Dr. Argo and staff.
Counselors, doctors, radiologists, co-workers and her children have provided so much love and encouragement during the months of surgery, treatment and recovery. But the one constant support that Linda knew would be by her side as friend and advocate was her mother, Jan Williams. Jan is more than her mom; she’s Linda's “Special Angel.” Their bond is obvious to anyone who has spent time with them. Jan shares the feelings of mothers everywhere who have helped a child face serious health issues. Her eyes tear up as she says, “It’s not supposed to happen this way!” Angel #6: Mom.
Linda was raised to “never question God.” She even refers to her cancer as a blessing! For a woman who says she “used to stress out about everything,” she now says, “I give it all to God.” She knows that stress and anger don’t change things and uses her situation to be a witness to others. At her first chemotherapy treatment, Linda met a lady who had lost all her hair as a result of treatment and who breathed with the help of an oxygen tank. But the woman’s positive attitude left a lasting impression on Linda. She uses that experience to help others as they face the unknowns in their lives.
Preparing to participate in a national research program through University of Oklahoma Health and Science Center, Linda is full of hope and committed to taking one day at a time. She looks forward to walking with her co-workers, family and fellow cancer survivors in the May 15 Relay For Life Owasso Collinsville, taking place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the Owasso High School Track. When you see Linda and her angels at Relay For Life, be sure to ask her about her “tattoos.”
Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature activity. It offers everyone in a community an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer. Teams of people camp out and take turns walking or running around a track, and each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times. Teams of people from all walks of life have fun while raising much-needed funds to fight cancer and raise awareness of cancer prevention and treatment.
To participate, form a team, or dedicate a luminaria at your local American Cancer Society Relay For Life, please call Courtney Naylor at (918) 477-5417. Go online to www.relayforlife.org/owasso.ok to learn more.