Local mom is on the road to recovery after battle with cancer
Amy Svoboda is thankful for many things. Most of all, she is thankful to spend another year with her family. Svoboda was diagnosed with cancer this May, and is now cancer-free.
Svoboda and her family live in the country near Hollandale, between Geneva and Blooming Prairie. Svoboda and her husband, Marshall, have been married for 13 years and have three children: 12-year-old Gadge, 11-year old Graci and 3-year-old Kaleb. Although the last few months have been difficult for the family, Svoboda said that, little by little, her life is returning to “normal.”
In April of this year, Svoboda said that she was not feeling well and went to the doctor. She had trouble swallowing and also had a dry cough. Initially, doctors believed that she had bronchitis but, when her throat began to swell, doctors decided to run more tests. After multiple tests, Svoboda tried visiting a different doctor and, within three days, learned that she had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.
“I was completely healthy, so to go from that to getting this kind of diagnosis, it was a shock,” reflects Svoboda.
Svoboda’s treatment was successful, but was also difficult. She completed a total of six treatments, spending five days in the hospital each time.
“They hit me with a really hard dose,” said Svoboda. “I was fine when I was in the hospital, but it was after I got home that I started to not feel good.”
Side effects, including exhaustion and weakness, from the treatment lasted for a few weeks. Svoboda said she usually started to feel better just days before her next scheduled treatment.
For Svoboda, who has been a dedicated stay-at-home mom, being away from her kids was the worst part of her treatments. “Since I’ve had Kaleb, I’ve never been away from them for more than a night or two,” Svoboda said.
Marshall’s career also requires him to travel frequently, so Svoboda’s treatments forced the whole family to adapt to a new routine.
“It’s been a long time since he’s had to get kids ready in the morning and he’s never had to be the only parent, so it was a huge shock for everybody,” said Svoboda, with a laugh. “It took a lot of getting used to.”
With lots of help from family and friends, the family made it through some difficult months. “It wasn’t easy, but it could have been worse,” said Svoboda. “And I had a huge support group, as far as family and friends. That helps, when you have a lot of people behind you, and all the prayers.”
Svoboda’s friends joke that she “blew up Facebook” after sharing her diagnosis on her Facebook page. Svoboda said that she is a private person who does not normally share personal details on Facebook, but found that the site was a convenient way to keep her many supporters updated about her treatment and progress.
Svoboda is also grateful to the staff at the Rochester Methodist Hospital, who tried to be as accommodating as possible as she battled the disease. This summer, Svoboda learned that she would have to spend the Fourth of July in the hospital. Her family cut their vacation short, and Svoboda joked with the doctors that she wanted to get a room with a view so she could watch fireworks while in the hospital. The hospital staff took the request seriously, and went out of their way to ensure the holiday was still special for the family.
“I got the best view,” said Svoboda, with a big smile. “So the kids came over and got to watch the fireworks with me.”
Her treatments wrapped up in late September and, in October, Svoboda was declared cancer-free. Every three months, she returns to the doctor for blood work. On occasion, Svoboda said she will also go visit some of the nurses and doctors she now calls her friends. “Every once in a while, I’ll stop in and visit, but I’m not coming back to stay!” Svoboda added.
Today, Svoboda is elated to be cancer-free. Her journey, however, wasn’t completely a negative experience. “I think it brought me closer to some of my family and friends, especially my kids,” she said. “It makes you appreciate things more.”
Positivity and faith also helped Svoboda navigate some of her darker days. “Don’t get me wrong… when I first found out, I cried my eyes out,” admits Svoboda. “Then, one day, I just said, ‘You know what? This is not going to get me. I’m going to fight this and be done with it and not let it change my life.’”
While Svoboda said that the disease did slow her down, she also still accomplished many of her short-term projects and goals, such as canning food from her garden.
“I still did as much as I could,” she said. “You have to have a positive attitude. We all had to have a positive attitude; not just me, but the rest of my family.”
Svoboda’s parents were very helpful during her treatment and recovery, and Svoboda also said she was grateful for the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group. “I want to say thank you to Blooming Prairie Cancer group for their generous donations,” she said. “They were very, very kind.”
In addition, Svoboda said that the members of her church have been extremely supportive. “There were a lot of prayers,” she said. “I think our faith in God, and all the prayers, are the strongest thing. And I think He’s mainly the one that pulled me through it.”
Svoboda said that she feels blessed to be on the road to recovery. Although she still gets tired, Svoboda continues to make small victories each day. “I made it through,” she said. “I had something that was very curable and treatable. I didn’t get as sick as some people do… I’m still here to take care of my kids.”