'It made me take note of what is important in life': Frazee woman shares wisdom gained from cancer battle
Whenever storms have come their way in the past, Cally Nundahl and her husband, Darby, have trusted in God to carry them through, and focused on what mattered most to them — caring for and loving their family and community. They're taking that same approach again now, as they weather their biggest storm yet — Cally's battle with cervical cancer.
DETROIT LAKES — Whenever storms have come their way in the past, Cally Nundahl and her husband, Darby, have trusted in God to carry them through, and focused on what mattered most to them — caring for and loving their family and community.
They're taking that same approach again now, as they weather their biggest storm yet — Cally's battle with cervical cancer.
The Nundahls are well-known and liked around the Frazee area where they live. Darby is a Becker County Sheriff's Deputy, and the couple have for years been familiar faces at community events and fundraisers. For them, going out of the way to help people who are struggling is a normal part of life.
Pastor Ryan Stockstrom, of Harvest Church in Frazee, knows the Nundahls well and said people who are blessed to know Cally know what it means to have a friend and confidante with a big heart. He described her as someone who is always willing to be a blessing to others, whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
“She will get involved and give with her heart, mind and soul — whatever she can do to help,” Stockstrom said.
Now, the community has a chance to pay it forward and show her that same kind of support. A benefit is being held for Cally and her family on Sunday, May 15 from 3-7 p.m. at the Frazee Event Center. The evening will include a freewill supper and a silent auction.
A fundraiser is also going on, through United Community Bank of Frazee (donations should be made to Cally Nundahl benefit) and through GoFundMe ( click here for the page).
Funds raised will help the Nundahl family with costs associated with Cally's medical care.
“I am so grateful and humbled at the outpouring of love and kindness shown to me and my family throughout my healing journey," she said. "God bless you all."
She plans to be at the benefit.
'This has all made me feel closer to God'
Nundahl's cancer diagnosis came after a routine annual checkup in November. She felt normal, she said, and even when the results showed an abnormality, she didn’t feel worse for the wear. It's often the case, she thought, that abnormal results on women's annual exams turn out to be nothing of concern.
“It took about a week to get the results,” she recalled. “They called me and told me to come in and said something like, 'Bring a support person.'”
She brought Darby. They saw the doctor the next day, and were informed she had adenocarcinoma cervical cancer. Surgery was recommended to extract a tumor and, initially, a hysterectomy to further remove the cancer. However, after further examination, doctors found that the cancer had progressed further than they first thought, and feared a hysterectomy might make it spread faster.
The focus then shifted to surgically removing a tumor and then attacking the cancer through chemotherapy and radiation. Nundahl received weekly chemo treatments at Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, and had radiation treatment every day for five weeks
“Every Tuesday during those five weeks, I had chemotherapy,” she said. “I would sit for three to four hours and watch it drip into my veins... It burned.”
After those treatments, Nundahl was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for five treatments of internal radiation inside her cervix.
“That was intense,” she said. “You almost don’t want to know what that was like. It was horrible.”
With her treatments now finished, Nundahl waits until June 13 to take tests that will determine whether or not her cancer her gone. She will learn the results on June 16.
As she fights for her life, those who love her have been stepping in to help whenever possible. Darby has offered her continual emotional support and encouragement, she said, while her son Luke has made himself available to drive her to treatments at all hours. Numerous others help keep her mind occupied with chatter and encouragement.
“There are days where I felt like I wanted to quit and not even get out of bed,” she acknowledged. “Those friendships and prayers were just what I needed. And my faith; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my faith.”
For a time she wondered, "Why me?" she said, but then realized that, "I would rather it be me than one of my children or someone else. On my worst days, I felt God there, telling me to get up, and so I did.”
A small silver lining to the ordeal has been the wisdom she's gained from her tribulations. She said her cancer battle has helped her grow more comfortable in her own skin.
“I don’t worry what others think anymore,” she said. “It really doesn’t matter. I now focus on the freedom to feel how I feel, and work toward getting and giving more love to the people around me. This has all made me feel closer to God, my husband and children, because it made me take note of what is important in life.”
If you go
WHAT: Cally Nundahl benefit
WHERE: Frazee Event Center
WHEN: Sunday, May 15, 3-7 p.m.
DETAILS: Freewill supper, silent auction
IF YOU CAN'T GO: Donations can be made at United Community Bank of Frazee or online through Cally's GoFundMe page