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Banding together

Balaton community gets behind one of its own after cancer diagnosis

March 26, 2011
By Cindy Votruba

Kyle Lehnhoff received a crushing blow just four days into the new year.

More than two months ago, the Balaton native and father of four learned he had glioblastoma, a malignant and aggressive form of brain tumor.

Two fundraisers will be in Balaton on April 1 and 3. The first one is a burger feed, starting at 4 p.m. Friday, April 1, at KirPatrick's in Balaton. The event includes a live auction that will be at 9:30 p.m. that night. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, April 3, there will be a benefit breakfast at the Balaton Community Center.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Pictured are Kyle and Jill Lehnhoff and their four daughters Charlee, Kamry, Olivia and Marisa. Kyle Lehnhoff has been battling cancer for the last two months and his hometown is having two benefits next weekend.

On the night of Jan. 4, Lehnhoff was with his wife, Jill, and their four daughters, Marisa, Olivia, Kamry and Charlee, when he had a seizure.

"I?had no symptoms at all (before), no headaches at all, no blurry vision,"?Lehnhoff said.

He was immediately taken to the Sanford Hospital in Luverne and then airlifted to Sanford in Sioux Falls. After several tests, doctors discovered a tumor on his brain and he was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma. Three days later, he underwent surgery where doctors removed most of the tumor without damaging the brain.

"It was just out of the blue," said Kari Karbo, one of Jill's three sisters. Karbo is one of the organizers for the upcoming benefits.

"It was just quite a blow, you get news like that, you just can't believe it," said Jill's mother, Linda Swan of Balaton.

"I?was just in awe, just kind of floored, how life can be changed in the snap of a finger,"?Lehnhoff said.

Lehnhoff had a couple things on his side, he was young, 33, and the tumor was small. He decided to do six weeks of radiation - 33 treatments in 15-minute intervals. He also had to take chemotherapy pills. He also is part of a Mayo Clinic study in which he takes a once a week dose of a medication developed for his type of cancer.

"It's been very stressful, we've been very close," said Karbo.

He was taken off radiation on March 11 and came off the chemotherapy pills two days later. But in a few weeks, Lehnhoff has to go back for some bloodwork. He'll have five straight days of chemo treatment, then three weeks off, continuing the cycle for the next six months to a year. He'll also continue taking the Mayo treatment on a weekly basis.

In the last two months, both the Adrian and Balaton communities have assisted the family. Both Kyle's and Jill's parents have traveled to Adrian to help out with the family, getting Kyle to doctor's appointments and having Jill be able to continue working.

"We just rallied around them and helped out our family and Kyle's family as much as possible," Swan said. Swan said a typical day for her in helping her daughter and son-in-law is getting the kids ready for school or daycare and taking Kyle to treatment.

"They've been a godsend,"? Lehnhoff said of his parents and in-laws. "Being able to work around their schedules."

Lehnhoff has been the computer technician and technology coordinator for the Adrian School District for 10 years. Many of his colleagues have pitched in, shoveling snow, helping with meals a couple of times a week. The high school student council even designed a T-shirt with the slogan "We can beat this!" that was sold at a recent fundraiser in Adrian.

"The support we had down here for the benefit was incredible,"? Lehnhoff said.

And now everybody's been coming together to "Fist Pump'n 4 Kyle" in Balaton, Karbo said about the upcoming fundraisers in the community.

"Everybody's been shocked that it happened to a 33-year-old," Swan said. "Everybody's been asking what they can do, praying."

Karbo said her family has been grateful for all the support in getting the fundraisers set up. A lot of items have already been donated for the auction, she said.

"It takes a lot of volunteers to get everything all going," Karbo said.

"I think it's fantastic, it's wonderful to take their time and efforts toward it," Swan said.

Lehnhoff said he's optimistic for his future. He's been working half-days at the school.

"I?have high hopes and good hopes,"?Lehnhoff said.

And even if people aren't able to make it to the fundraisers, Karbo said they'll appreciate any kind of support.

"We're always taking the prayers," Karbo said.



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