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On May 18th, 2018 Tonda Scheffler was thought to have stage IV Small Cell Carcinoma, an aggressive form of lung cancer most commonly found in smokers, which Tonda was for many years. We prayed for a miracle, but the diagnosis was confirmed May 24th, 2018. She was given 4-6 months to live. That day our family rushed over to see her when the news got out. With tears in our eyes, we sat around that front porch staring at her and wondering why this had to happen to her. There was distance between Tonda and us and she immediately, with a smile on her face, asked what we are all looking at, and why are you all over there? “I don’t bite,” she joked to try to lighten the mood. On May 27th, 2018, Tonda started her first round of chemotherapy. The next 6 months were filled with chemo treatments and they went well. It seemed to be shrinking the tumors that metastasized. Just for extra precaution, the next few months after chemo were filled with radiation therapy on her neck and chest. She was thriving, she was getting around well, always in a good mood, and just happy with where she was in life. Taking us to the beginning of 2019, where Tonda was not currently on any treatment, and the dr mentioned a clinical trial of immunotherapy that has had good results for Small Cell Lung Cancer. The problem with SCLC, besides the fact that it’s cancer, is the statistics. Remission is not really something that can be reached for SCLC patients. After careful consideration, on February 28th, 2019, Tonda went for her first immunotherapy treatment. Starting in the middle of March, after being on the treatment, Tonda started to get sick and tired a lot. She never wanted to get out of bed, she was sleeping all day long, not really eating, and starting to swell. We tried to get her up and around but she just couldn’t. She was in pain and needed help up, help with walking and using the restroom. We finally had to have the awkward talk with the nurse that this is the end and what to expect. There was one thing that Tonda didn’t like and that was to have people cry over her. If you did, even though it was obvious why, she would ask “why are you crying?” As much as we wanted to believe in a miracle, it just didn’t happen for her. She fought for 10 long months, and on April 14th, 2019 Tonda passed away. She left behind a husband just 1 month shy of 40 years, 6 kids, 7 grandkids, and 2 great grandkids. She was 56 years old.
The one thing to remember about her is her ability to smile through every biopsy, hair loss, joint pain, bone pain, cold, isolation, radiation blister, needle, medication, and hospital stay she endured. Never ever did she give up.