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When cancer recurs, attitude is everything

Kristen McGregor-Linehan is fighting cancer for a second time. She says a positive attitude and the support of family and friends helped her beat the disease the first time and are convinced she can do it again. Her family recently celebrated her son’s 15th birthday at Lake Pepin. From left are Mason, Kristen, Ellie and Chuck Linehan. (Submitted photo)

Kristen McGregor-Linehan is a familiar face in downtown Hudson, being part of the staff at Seasons on St. Croix for more than a dozen years. But she hasn’t been around as much lately, not since getting the news that cancer was back in her life again.

Linehan, who grew up in Hudson but now lives in River Falls, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment and she was well on her way to reaching the five-year, cancer-free milestone.

But during a routine checkup with her internal medicine doctor this summer, a special blood test for people who have had cancer raised concerns. Linehan and her family got the news they feared most – her cancer had returned and spread to her liver.

This time around she is being treated at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., undergoing chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before having surgery to remove it. Along with excellent medical care, Linehan is once again turning to a weapon she used the last time around – a positive attitude.

“It was a huge blow to hear it had come back but I know staying positive helped me get better the last time. I realize I can’t control having cancer but I can control my attitude and I intend to be strong and positive and healthy again.”

Linehan said the news hit her family hard as well. She and her husband Chuck have two children, a son Mason just starting high school, and a 12-year-old daughter Ellie. Having been through it before, her son asked his grandmother a lot of questions about the recurrence. Her daughter has asked fewer questions but when she saw her mother having a bad day from the chemotherapy side effects, she weighed in.

“She told me to remember that it was just the chemo doing its job. They have been so great. Everybody has.”

Linehan said it is her support system that helps her maintain that positive attitude. “My kids, my husband, my mother, my brothers, Fr. Harris at St. Bridget’s, my family at Seasons – they have all helped tremendously. Just knowing they are there for me makes all the difference.”

That’s part of the reason Linehan says am event like “Go Pink” in downtown Hudson is important. “It is getting to the point that everybody has been touched by cancer and things like this are a good way to reach out and do something about it while supporting your community and having a great time.”

While she misses being with her “Seasons family,” she doesn’t miss an opportunity to promote their “Go Pink’ event – a chance to create a silk scarf with the gallery’s resident fiber artist Robbin Firth. “Don’t miss that.”

Linehan said she expects to win this latest battle with the disease and plans to bring everything she has to the fight. As she told Fr. Harris, “I’m not done here yet.”

The Hudson downtown retailers will host the fourth annual GO Pink For Life event on Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, during regular business hours, benefiting the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Hudson. For more information see related story.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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