It took a year for doctors to find a cause for Rhonda Brenzikofer’s shortness of breath. Blood tests showed she was anemic.
A test by a pulmonologist showed her lungs were clear. The doctor put her on oxygen to help her get around when she went on a cruise with her family.
She then had a colonoscopy, which indicated no problems.
Brenzikofer was diagnosed in June 2018 with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, after the doctor sent her to a blood specialist who took a biopsy of her bone marrow.
She was relieved to have her problem diagnosed. She began treatment in July 2018.
Four months of a monthly chemotherapy shot resulted in the development of neuropathy in her legs. She said the chemo made her legs feel heavy and caused her to be unstable.
“I walked around like a drunk person,” she said.
The chemo shot was discontinued, but Brenzikofer continued a prescribed oral pill.
She continues to take two pills a day. Blood tests show she is making improvement.
“I’ve been lucky. I don’t have pain except in my back, which probably comes from my years of nursing,” she said. “I have a good appetite, but I fall easily.”
She takes a blood test every week, has a calcium shot every month, and sees her doctor once a month.
She collects meal tickets at Marion Senior Center most every day.
“I’m still exhausted and sleep a lot,” she said. “Cancer sucks, and the costs are horrid.”
Thankfully, she has good insurance.
Now 83, Brenzikofer has been a widow for seven years. She has a country home south of Marion and enjoys growing flowers. Her daughter, Renae, and her husband, moved to Wichita from Arizona to help her. Another daughter, Robin, lives in Garnett.
Brenzikofer takes life one day at a time and hopes to have her cancer in remission someday.
“I don’t worry about the little things in life,” she said. “Just the big things.”
Brenzikofer supports Marion County Relay for Life. She lost a daughter and brother to cancer more than seven years ago.