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Surrounded by family, enduring another battle

10/09/08 (Thu)

There are bumps along the road in everyone’s road of life.

The bumps in Margaret Oestreich’s life have been a bit larger than most.

Margaret, 74, Hazen, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last October. She had been coughing constantly for the better part of four years, at times making it difficult to talk, sleep or even eat. After the lung cancer diagnosis by an oncologist, she was treated with intense chemotherapy treatments that put her in and out of the hospital for four months.

But the diagnosis has been only the latest bump in Margaret’s life.

The former teacher and dietician was diagnosed with breast cancer 40 years ago and had a mastectomy on her right side – directly above the now ailing lung. There is most likely no direct connection between the events, her doctor said. The radiation from treatment deteriorated her ribs, though, and she needed surgery to graft skin from her leg to patch the hole. She is missing over half her sternum, leaving little to protect her heart. Muscle from her left armpit area was also moved to her right to replace muscle taken during the mastectomy.

Then in 1973, Margaret had the worst of her several heart attacks.

Finally, 10 years ago, she had a 14-hour heart surgery to remove a tumor in her ventricle. In that instance, she had six total surgeries in five days and spent 17 days in the ICU.