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Fight against cancer continues for Wauneta’s Mindi Goings PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 29 April 2011 16:46

 

By Josh Sumner

The Wauneta Breeze

 

Mindi Goings has been a fighter her entire life. The toughness she’s shown in what’s been nearly a six-year fight with cancer makes her recognizable as one of the strongest women in Wauneta.

But you might be surprised to learn that one of her hardest battles came in her earliest moments.

Mindi was born with a tumor on her heart, which doctors said gave her about a 15 percent chance of living. Surgeons battled to save infant Mindi, who also experienced a cyanotic seizure at only three days old.

With her lungs almost completely compromised, Mindi’s family hoped for a miracle. That’s exactly what they got.

Doctors inflated her lungs, and Mindi Lemburg, as she was known back then, began breathing on her own.

“Mindi has been a fighter since day one,” said her mother, Jan Lemburg.

Mindi Goings, sits in the comfort of her living room between mother, Jan Lemburg, and daughter GraCee.

 

What followed for Mindi was a full recovery and a normal, healthy life as a child and teenager. She would go on to graduate from Chase County High School. Then she studied at McCook Community College, before earning her degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

It was there in Kearney, at a party on Main Street, where she met the man she would spend the rest of her life with.

“I went down the basement steps, and here is Bob with a girl on each hip,” recollects Mindi, laughingly, of the first time she met her future husband, Bob Goings. It took two weeks for Bob to work up the guts to officially ask Mindi out. The rest is history.

On December 27, 1997, Mindi married the man she still calls her best friend. The young couple celebrated their children, Gunner, 9, and GraCee, 5, in the years that followed. They continue to own and operate Advanced Automotive in Wauneta to this day.

By the accounts of most people, the Goings family was living the midwesterner’s dream. It wouldn’t be long before a shock wave, the effects of which are still felt today, would rock the family.

Mindi first began complaining about a shortness of breath in September, 2005.

“I couldn’t walk down to the post office or the bank without being really winded,” said Mindi, who had never been exposed to significant amounts of cigarette smoke in her life. She began taking antibiotics and cough suppressants for what doctors thought was bronchitis.

As the months went by, Mindi’s health only got worse. Doctors began to fear she was possibly suffering from fibrosis of the lungs. But a biopsy from a respiratory specialist in Greeley, Colo., revealed something else in February, 2006.

Doctors discovered pea-sized lumps in each of Mindi’s breasts. The right side was found to be benign, but, sadly, the left side was malignant. The breast cancer had also metastasized to her lungs and lymph-nodes. The outlook offered by doctors was grim.

“They told me I wouldn’t make it to Christmas,” said Mindi. “I looked right at him and I said, ‘You’re wrong.’”

The Goings family returned to their Wauneta home where Mindi’s mom, Jan, was house-sitting.

“I was sitting in the living room when they walked in,” said Jan. “Mindi looked at me, and she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to beat this.’ And she did.”

Chemotherapy treatment, which lasted for three years, was started in an effort to save Mindi’s life. Every week for three years, Mindi traveled to Benkelman to receive her medication. She often traveled with friend Cathy Walgren, of Wauneta, who works as a nurse in Benkelman. Cathy has even been known to make house calls to Mindi’s home to administer her medicine.

Mindi became recognizable by the people of Dundy County through her vibrant personality. She always traveled with her matching red purse and Kindle reader, which she would read during the eight-hour treatments.

“The people in Benkelman were great to Mindi,” said Jan. “They always did a great job of making her feel comfortable.”

Amazingly, and to the surprise of many doctors, Mindi was believed to be cancer free after those three years passed. Mindi had beaten the odds for the second time in her life.

The several months that followed was a great time for the Goings family. Bob and Mindi took a trip to Las Vegas. Mindi returned to her job managing the finances at the couple’s auto repair shop.

Then, in September, 2010 — devastation.

Headaches and slight dizziness forced Mindi to return to Benkelman for a new round of CT Scans. It was during that visit that doctors discovered Mindi had 12 brain tumors.

“I thought, ‘Great, here we go again,’” said Mindi. “But I took the same approach I did the first time. I told myself, ‘I’m going to beat it.’”

Mindi immediately went to Denver where she underwent brain surgery, resulting in the removal of two egg-sized tumors. She then headed to North Platte for 15 days of radiation treatment. Upon returning home, her condition only seemed to worsen.

Feeling nauseous and ill, Mindi was rushed back to North Platte by husband Bob in February, 2011. Bob drove through treacherous winter weather to get his wife the treatment she needed to live. Once she got admitted, doctors found that her tumors were growing and causing herniation. The risk of life-threatening coma or seizures became a stark reality.

With her life in crisis, doctors concluded that perhaps the only way to save Mindi would be through a high-tech procedure called stereotactic radiation. Through blizzarding conditions, Mindi was life-flown from North Platte to Lincoln, where a team of four doctors was waiting to perform the operation.

Stereotactic radiation is a process in which a CT Scan and MRI are combined using 3D technology. Images are generate, giving doctors the schematics of the patient’s brain, and where the brain tumors lie. Radiation is used on those affected areas of the brain.

After the procedure, Mindi was placed on a steroid called Decadron. Her recovery was swift, according to her mother, Jan. According to Jan, Mindi went from being almost comatose to speaking on day one, going to the bathroom on her own on day two and sitting up and reading in bed on day three.

Mindi currently returns to Lincoln once a month to continue to receive stereotactic radiation. In the weeks that follow each treatment, her dosage of Decadron is slowly decreased. The days leading up to her monthly visits is when she feels weakest.

Amidst the battle was more heartbreak just weeks ago. An MRI showed the tumors in Mindi’s brain had grown, and that a 13th tumor had sprouted. Instead of the positive reaction she usually feels soon after her radiation treatment, Mindi became incapacitated.

That’s when a prayer visit from old friend, Sharon Buffington, may have helped save Mindi’s life.

“I think people walk in healing,” said Jan. “Healing can either be an instantaneous thing that God does in your life, such as a miracle, or your healing can come from reaching out to others.”

In the short time since Sharon’s visit, Mindi’s condition has gotten better each day. Her most recent MRI in McCook last Wednesday revealed that all the tumors in her brain are either stable or shrinking. Mindi is walking on her own, and even cleaning the house.

More miraculous is that it’s all happening in the final days of Mindi’s Decadron cycle, in which her dosage has been narrowed down to almost nothing. The young woman, who has served as an inspiration to countless people in southwest Nebraska, continues to display incredible strength.

“Mindi still has a huge battle on her hands, but she is a fighter,” said Jan. “Thankfully, we live in a community where a doctor can do a site visit. Her support system has been incredible.”

Mindi’s family, including Bob, Jan, father, Warren Lemburg, mother-in-law, Kay Goings, father-in-law, Fred Goings and sister, RanDee Littrel, has been vital for support, too. Whether it’s Bob’s ability to provide for his family, Jan’s knack for talking to doctors and asking the tough questions, Kay’s flexibility to babysit or RanDee’s propensity for providing a much-needed laugh or road trip, they’ve been alongside Mindi every step of the way.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Mindi. “But we’ll beat it, just like we did before.”