"Cancer is a beast of a disease. It runs your energy tank down to well past empty, causes you to feel like crap, and makes you lose your hair all at the same time. Utterly relentless."—Kelly Rodenberg, There’s Something Going on Upstairs.
Utterly relentless is how Kelly Rodenberg describes her cancer. But it’s also how one can describe the Chaska resident’s dedication to optimism and her strong faith.
Diagnosed in October 2019 with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, she decided to chronicle her journey in a humorous and, at times, faith-filled book, There’s Something Going On Upstairs. “The more that I wrote and saw a story coming together and realized this is not only helping me, but others, by gosh it made me want to get up and write more,” Rodenberg says. “It was my saving grace in a very dark time.”
Rodenberg’s diagnosis hit several years after her husband, Bob, had his own health concerns. She found it shocking to now be facing her own journey. Her book touches on what it is like being a caregiver, who is now a patient. She also lovingly details her childhood on a farm and describes how she used the lessons of hard work and determination to make it through her treatment. Rodenberg also credits the community at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, as well as her faith, family and laughter in lighting her way.
Rodenberg quickly found herself in surgery—within three weeks of symptoms appearing. Her surgeon at the Mayo Clinic removed 95 percent of the tumor. She then went through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation that ended in late 2019. She is now in remission, but glioblastoma is a particularly difficult type of tumor.
“Regrowth is a new and ever-present bullet to dodge … While the surgeon did his best to remove the tumor that’s visible, there is still no clear-cut cure. It’s a terminal disease that I hope to beat …While this glioblastoma is definitely a piece of me, it will never define me,” Rodenberg writes in her book.
The book straddles a delicate balance of cancer from the point of view of a caregiver and patient. Rodenberg offers suggestions on how friends and family can support caregivers and patients. “Everyone wants to help, but few know what to do,” she says.
Rodenberg travels the Twin Cities with her book and speaks at churches, retirement homes and assisted living facilities. “It’s so humbling to hear how people are relating to the book,” she says.