Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting By With a Little Help From Her Friends

Since leaving behind police & fire dispatching and becoming an ambulance dispatcher almost six years ago, I have met some truly fantastic people. I'd like to introduce you to one of them today ...

To meet Kirsten Frostad, you would think you were meeting a 23-year old with a beautiful smile, sunny personality, and not a care in the world beyond those of every other 23-year old in the world – student loans, plans for the future, and what to do with friends on Saturday night.

Kirsten, however, is not your ordinary 23-year old. She’s a 23-year old who has been diagnosed with Stage Four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with the rarest subtype of Hodgkin’s known. As a matter of fact, her type is so rare; doctors still aren’t sure what type of cancer has invaded her bone marrow.

A 2003 graduate of Wheeler High School in North Stonington, Kirsten went on to graduate with honors from the University of Connecticut in 2007 majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Her plans were to continue her education as a Physician’s Assistant specializing in oncology at George Washington University . In the meantime, Kirsten began employment at American Ambulance Service, Inc in June of 2008 as an Emergency Medical Technician; a job that was perfect for her as it gave her the chance to help others while saving up for her continuing education.

Her plans and her full-time job came to a halt in October after a swollen lymph node under her arm was biopsied and came back malignant. Following a month and a half of testing, her diagnosis was made and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Kirsten had cancer in her lymph nodes and bone marrow both and it was at Stage 4 – an advanced form of cancer. For someone who wasn’t feeling bad at all, it was an unthinkable diagnosis but reality soon set in when Kirsten went in for her first chemo treatment.

On December 10th, the first round of the powerful drugs that would eradicate the cancer began coursing their way through Kirsten’s system; drugs that left her weak and sick and feeling worse than she ever thought possible. Just a mere two weeks later, on Christmas Day, Kirsten’s hair began to fall out – a fact that she shared with her friends on Facebook and tried to make light of as much as possible.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was more to worry about than just the cancer that had invaded her body. Kirsten was obviously unable to work and her health insurance capped out and was canceled leaving her with over $20,000 in accumulated medical bills from the diagnosis and testing alone – never mind the next five rounds of chemo; the trips to Yale-New Haven Hospital to consult with the cancer specialist there in addition to the oncologist she sees in Norwich, and other living expenses which include unpaid student loans from her four years at the University of Connecticut.

On January 14th, Kirsten was finally able to return to work for a single shift at American Ambulance sporting a cute blonde wig courtesy of the American Cancer Society. Her co-workers were very happy to see her back but some weren’t sure how to approach her as there were rumors that she had been given a prognosis of only six months. Kirsten assured her co-workers that was not the case – that she had a six-month chemo schedule to start with – but that there was no horrible prognosis given.

If you ask Kirsten, she’ll tell you that her prognosis is excellent and she is going to beat this thing no matter what it takes. If she can beat it by dint of will and attitude alone, then her cancer doesn’t stand a chance as Kirsten has one of the most positive and upbeat attitudes ever. There is no feeling sorry for herself, no sitting in the corner and crying “why me?”, and no flagging of spirit in spite of not knowing what sort of cancer has invaded her bone marrow. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her and rightly so.

Unfortunately, Kirsten is also fast going broke as she’s only able to work one eight or ten hour shift every three weeks due to a chemo schedule that makes it hard to work any more hours than that. By the time she’s starting to feel better and able to work, it’s time for another round of chemicals and then she’s down for the count again for another week or two. It’s a tough cycle – especially for someone who is normally so vibrant and active and would much rather spend her time taking care of others rather than having others take care of her.

A fundraiser for Kirsten has been planned by her sister and other friends for April 11th in the hopes that enough people will be able to join together to help alleviate some of Kirsten’s financial worries and make the difficult time that she’s going through perhaps a tiny bit easier. Money is not something that she should have to worry about at this point – getting well and beating the cancer should be her only concern.

If you live in the local area and want to attend Kirsten’s fundraiser, the spaghetti dinner will be held at the Pawcatuck VFW from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will include music by the band Double-Fisted as well as a raffle. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser but would still like to contribute a little bit to help Kirsten out, please feel free to click on the PayPal button below and make a donation. If you have any questions, please send them to and someone will get right back to you.

Even though she hasn't asked for any of this help, I have no doubt that Kirsten will appreciate every single penny given as each one helps to lift the weight of the burdens that cancer has been placed on her way-too-young shoulders. Thank you!

To help us help Kirsten, click here -

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  1. What a terriffic post, Linda! April 11th is already marked off on the calander, and dollars-to-donuts, there'll be one heckuva turnout! She really is all that has been written here, and I'm proud to call her my fellow EMT, and friend! Thanks for sharing this with us, Linda!

  2. what a cutie! her personality shines through! yes, she will beat it!

    smiles, bee

  3. what a beautiful girl!! inside and out
    I hate that she has to struggle financially while working on getting better - some really messed up priorities in this country

    you are a force of nature Linda - what a great way to help your friend

  4. you care for so many people. an amazing young woman.

  5. Dianne is are a force of nature.

    I know what cancer treatment, procedures, and doctors care costs. It is astronomic.

    Cancer is a battle. Kirsten really benefits from friends like you supporting her effort. Not just financially...but knowing that people care about her progress gives her boosts of strength that are invaluable at this time.

  6. Kristen certainly will beat this!! I will add prayers for her also. Cancer is horrible... we have been so fortunate that Rich's insurance is excellent and he has been able to continue to carry it under COBRA. Our cancer bills are well over $500,000 now.

  7. I'm crossing all my toes and fingers for her.
    Will you have this up for awhile? I have to wait till next paycheck to donate.

  8. Anonymous1:07 PM EDT

    what an inspiration she is! Thanks for sharing her story, Linda.

  9. What a fighter she is! Wishing her all the best and although I can't donate anything at the moment I will certainly be sending prayers, positive thoughts and oodles of Reiki. x

  10. What a remarkable woman, Linda.

    Kirsten really has courage. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Kirsten is a beautiful and inspirational young woman. I wish her only the best in her treatment and recovery. You are an angel for letting us know about her situation.

  12. Aww, so touching. She is so pretty, sweet, awesome and positive. Why do people like her get this kind of disease when she doesn't really deserve it? I'm sure she'll get through with this, she'll be one of the Cancer Survivors with that attitude!

  13. I'll be putting this on my blog. Hopefully, people will pick up and help.

  14. What a beautiful, sweet smile. Linda, you are SUCH a great friend! Your capacity to reach out and love someone is awesome and inspires me as much as Kirsten's story does...
    With support like you guys, I'm betting on her to realize a dream.
    p.s. I have a friend with the same diagnosis. Here's her website:
    Her name is Wendy Wayne. She is one heck of a woman. Here's a quote she uses to thank those who are standing by - it applies to you!
    "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
    Albert Schweitzer


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