Outside Looking In
This is a story of someone getting knocked down over and over again by an opponent that is disliked by everyone, has no shame, shows no remorse, and refuses to let up no matter how much it is battering an opponent.
To enter into a fight with an opponent with so much strength and determination makes you an instant underdog.
That's not to say the opponent is unbeatable. But to win, it takes determination, perseverance, support and faith.
Mitzi Buckingham, a 1980 Minneota graduate, has stood toe-to-toe with this opponent, which she has dubbed the beast, since she was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic and stage-4 colon cancer. The two cancers are unrelated, doctors told her.
Buckingham has taken punch after punch, yet keeps picking herself up, refusing to be angry at God or anyone else but the beast.
Back in January when I wrote a feature story about her ordeal, she explained her reason for not being angry.
"I've had a wonderful life. I've had wonderful parents. I have a wonderful husband (Scott). I have wonderful kids (Kelli Gamrak and Kristi Kennedy), son-in-laws (Adam and Lennis) and grandkids (Payton, Jayden, Matthew, Levi, Ethan, Ella). I have wonderful friends. And I have Jesus," she said.
She was first diagnosed in October of 2019 and doctors initially gave her one to two years of life.
Since then, she has had 38 rounds of chemo. After her oncologist in Rochester looked at her latest CT scan, he admitted it was worrisome as the cancer has spread to her lungs and lymph nodes. Since the previous chemo drug has stopped working, they will switch to another one.
The news hit her like a ton of bricks, but she soon got over the initial shock and was right back up and fighting, saying "enough is enough".
"With the love and support from my family and Prayer Warriors (a group of friends that have raised money to defray medical costs and have been in her corner all through this fight)," she said, "I am ready to continue my battle with the beast."
Last week, the personable Buckingham was hit by a positive test for COVID even though she had been vaccinated for the virus. She had a "horrific headache that wouldn't go away and fatigue". Following an infusion two days later, she began to feel better.
On Facebook, she takes the time to wish someone a happy birthday, or "Likes" something they have posted, making sure to let them know she cares.
Buckingham was told that she will never be cured from cancer. The goal is to keep it stable.
"I don't know what God has in store for me next," she said. "I have to be realistic. I know I am running out of options. But I will continue my fight with the help of Jesus, my family and my Prayer Warriors. No one fights alone. I will forever be grateful to all who pray for me. I am fortunate to have a wonderful Cancer Center in Marshall. The staff is second to none."
She may be running out of options, but she will never run from this fight.
The Minneota School Board has called for a school district election on November 2.
Three community meetings have been set up to allow the public to familiarize themselves with the details of the election.
A Powerpoint will be presented along with a question-and-answer session. All meetings will take place in the choir room at the Minneota Public School District. Please join us.
The first meeting is set for August 25 at 7 p.m. The others will be held on Monday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.