Imagine singing being one of your first loves...it's what makes you happy, it makes you feel alive. Now imagine being told because of chemotherapy you may never sing again.
That's reality for one KELOLAND woman who has shared her beautiful voice with audiences for more than a decade. But she's now fighting back against lung cancer, a disease she isn't about to let take away what makes her most happy.
It's a Holiday tradition many families have adopted throughout the years...getting tickets to see the Acoustic Christmas group perform on stage.
If you've ever sat in the audience, you'd remember Doreen Pospisil.
Her voice, the same beautiful mezzo soprano, but for Doreen this year's performances will be a little different. At only 52-years-old, she's been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Doreen says, “In April I started with a cough and that was the only symptom I had.”
Her doctor treated her for allergies, acid reflux, then bronchitis...until finally this summer, a cat scan found a spot on her lung.
“They also said there were some lymph nodes involved and said it was stage four which was a little devastating at the time,” she says.
Because the cancer is too widespread, she's been told surgery and radiation are not options...Only chemotherapy which she has every 3 weeks.
“I remember looking at Dr. Keppen and saying are you sure you have the right person? It just didn't seem possible. I don't think anybody expects to hear a cancer diagnosis.”
Not only does the chemo take a toll on her body, it takes a toll on her gift.
“The chemo affects my voice…especially initially right after the treatment I get pretty hoarse for several days. And when you want to sing and when you've lost something like that and when you can’t or when it doesn't come easy, you really realize how much you miss it. And I love to sing.”
The group has been practicing since August, but because she's been ill, Doreen has only been able to attend a few practices so far. Tuesday she was able to join the group...and you couldn't wipe her smile away. She calls her music her therapy...it makes her forget she's sick.
She says, “After we rehearsed for a while I said you guys don't even realize how good it is to be here. You know you sit at home, and you're fatigued and feeling some of the effects of the chemo and just hoping you can get out of the house and you go to a rehearsal like that and have so much fun singing and being with people you enjoy being with and it is very therapeutic.”
But her music isn't the only thing that's helping her fight the disease.
Doreen has been an executive assistant at Sanford for 20 years...and it's her co-workers, friends, and family that have really given her the most support.
“It’s kind of amazing. They've really worked hard for me and kind of overwhelming when I think about it.”
The earrings, bracelet, and necklace she wears are in honor of her. They're made and sold by co-workers to help raise money for Doreen's piling medical bills. They call themselves Team Doreen.
But besides the love around her, she also counts on her faith to help her get through the bad days.
Doreen says, “There’s a lot of power in prayer and I believe that with my whole heart.”
And pray is what she does every day, especially Thursday when she had her first scan since starting treatment. The scan will show doctors if the tumor has gotten smaller or if the cancer has spread.
She says, “I feel good. I haven't coughed since I started my treatment, my breathing is good, so I'm very hopeful that things are on the right track and we're going to get through this.”
And it's that positive attitude that makes you maybe not even realize she's battling what she calls the Big C. And it's her voice that makes you forget.
For more information about ordering Team Doreen items, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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