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The music of survival

By Staff | Jun 10, 2008

Nancy Anderson, Laura Fix, Any Jensen, and Kyle Hoffman were the honorary cancer survivors feted at the American Cancer Society Emmet County Relay for Life Saturday.

For several years now, Laura Fix has been a mainstay in the Estherville Lincoln Central music program. As instrumental music instructor, her tutelege has included a number of students who show promise of professional music careers.

Imagine, then, how her students, and fellow ELC staff, reacted when Fix learned that she had cancer.

She detected it in stage one, though, and with her typical willpower, fought her way through her cancer battle and is well on the way toward total recovery.

“It made me look at life and the people in my life and love the people in my life and enjoy them,” Fix told the crowd Saturday at the American Cancer Society Emmet County Relay for Life. As one of four honorary cancer survivors, Fix has definitely been an inspiration to all the people she touches. “It has been a reawakening for me,” Fix said.

It was November 2006 when Fix first detected her cancer. She had a lumpectomy and her doctors felt she needed additional surgery to remove more tissue. Then came a third surgery to determine whether the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. It had not. A fourth surgery was necessary to remove an infection from the biopsy site.

Hundreds of balloons were released to start the relay that raised $109,000.

After four surgeries, four chemotherapy sessions, and 30 radiation treatments, Fix was found to be cancer free.

While her attitude has been nothing short of heroic, Fix is quick to praise those around her.

“The school was excellent working with me,” Fix said. “I was sick more than I cared to be that year.”

Fix also showers praises on fellow music instructor Steve Bradburn for filling in during her absence.

“He was great,” Fix said. “I never really had to step out of the school. I couldn’t have asked for a better support group. My band kids were marvelous.”

“I had a great support group,” Fix said. “My friends in Estherville and the community were just marvelous.”

Fix has special praises for her high-school principal, Sue Bish. “I couldn’t have asked for a better administrator,” Fix said.

Through it all, Fix kept her optimism and faith in the future.

“I never thought I wasn’t going to come through it,” Fix said. “I did go through a period where I was mad, angry.” However, she also pointed out that that’s the way she faces many obstacles.

“I looked at it as two ends — the chemo and the radiation,” Fix said. She said she felt the most relief when she learned that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes.

While she was detected with cancer at 34, a very young age for breast cancer, Fix said there is no history of breast cancer among the women of her family. Still, she has advice to all women regarding the topic of breast cancer.

“You need to get to know your body and be aware of any change,” Fix said. If she should find something, a woman should go to the doctor immediately. “Don’t keep blowing it off and think it will go away,” she said.

Fix related that she had a college friend who found a lump and whose doctor said it as nothing. When she received a second opinion, it was too late and she died.

“That is the key to it is early detection,” Fix said. “Attitude is a key too. And a healthy lifestyle is a key.”