Lloyd was born in 1928 and when he died in 1936, I was only two years old. He died from what was called scarletina then; later it was called Scarlet Fever. He was such a happy child that Mamma compared him to a ray of sunshine that was always present. Everyone who knew him said he was gentle, kind and always smiling. All those who really knew him, sadly, are now all gone.
You may remember that my maternal grandmother, Sophia Emma Holmlund died very young of what we are pretty certain was breast cancer. My Mom said that although not much was known about cancer at the time, she knew the death was breast related.
My sister Verna died of breast cancer in 1953 when she was just 35. In the summer of ’52, when she was pregnant with Kate (Kathryn Dale) she noticed a lump under her arm. She consulted with her doctor, Dr. Norman Murtaugh and after Kate was born she started having treatments. However, the diagnosis was late and Verna didn’t live to see Kate’s first birthday.
Verna’s doctor also died of cancer around the same time, when he was just 39. After internship in Staten Island, N.Y., Dr. Murtaugh set up general practise in Craik, Sask.
My sister Edna also died of breast cancer in 1977 at the age of 54, having been diagnosed just two years earlier. Although some advancements had been made in the treatment of cancer since 1953 when Verna died, Edna wasn’t able to beat the disease. Edna had one daughter, Susan.
Both my brothers, Gordon and Jim, have suffered with Parkinson’s disease. The problem is the reduction of dopamine to the mid-brain. Much has been done to help relieve the symptoms but certainly more research is needed to find a cure for this debilitating disease. On Michael J. Fox’s website, there is a Parkinson’s Disease Symptom Guide you can download to find out more.
Kidney Problems and Guillain-Barre Syndrome
As you may have read in the story of my brother Gerald, when he was 26 he had a kidney removed. For years we thought that Gerald had hurt his back when the barn door fell on him when he was a youngster, and having an injury when you are this young makes you think that it is natural to be hurting. He lived with this pain for many years and it wasn’t till he was 26 years old when he had two surgeries on it. The first was to try and repair it and the second was to have it removed. We wonder if it was actually a birth defect.
Gerald also suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disease where your immune system begins attacking your nerves. Exercise, and riding his bicycle in particular, gave him the greatest relief.
I had pneumonia when I was two years old – the same year that Lloyd died.
Our family doctor at the time was Dr. Monkman, who concocted a mixture that had to be heated so the steam could clear my lungs. They made a makeshift tent over me to inhale the pungent concoction and my family was on watch 24/7, taking turns patting me on the back in an attempt to get rid of the congestion. When I began to recover, Gerald was the one doing the patting. I said, “Gerald, stop hitting me! That hurts!” It was then they knew I was going to live. And I have been pneumonia-free to this day.
Although our Dad only lived to be 76, Mamma lived to be 93. So far, Georgie holds the longevity record in the family, living into her 96th year, but a series of strokes began to impact the quality of her life in her last three years.
We were all pretty active physically and track and field trophies adorned our home when we were growing up. Chronic illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, and obesity were never an issue in our family, but I chalk that up to the Swedish genes – and a healthy lifestyle doesn’t hurt!
Keep active, my friends. Exercise and smart eating helps.