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Lung cancer victim takes it day by day

A single mother, Carla Carlstrom has worked all of her life.

But Carlstrom has had to take a break from her employment as a registered nurse at a Spring Valley health care facility after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A benefit for the River Falls area resident will be held this Saturday at the El Paso Basement Bar.

"She thought she was having a stroke," Carlstrom's daughter, Carlavee, said Tuesday about an incident leading up to her diagnosis.

The mother, grandmother and friend started having medical problems this past spring, according to information distributed for the benefit. While she was in for a test, a spot was noted on her lung. She underwent a lobectomy and the spot was found to be adenocarcinoma, a form of lung cancer.

"They'd found an old bleed in her brain," her daughter said, adding a mass detected in conjunction with the testing resulted in Carlstrom having the upper part of her lung removed.

That occurred about five months ago, Carlavee said. Since then, her mom began undergoing intense chemotherapy weekly, which started a couple of months ago and is expected to last a total of four months.

"This has a success rate," the daughter understood from doctors treating her mom.

She believes it was caught early enough and has been assured the entire mass was removed.

"We'll find out more after the chemotherapy is done," she said.

Carlstrom's daughter is one of five children in the family. She said three siblings are adults like herself, including Chastity, and twins Tara and John. Lauren, the youngest, is a student at Clear Lake High School.

Except for herself, who's a Nebraska native, the daughter said her siblings were all born in Wisconsin. The family initially lived in New Richmond, then moved to Clear Lake and, 12 years ago, to the River Falls vicinity.

Their mother is collecting short-term disability; however, there's significant financial stress due to the added medical expenses. She said she and her sister, plus two of her mom's friends, began organizing the benefit two months ago. El Paso Basement Bar owner Phil Huggett has been especially generous, donating the use of the facility as well as food and music.

The event will feature a spaghetti dinner 5-7 p.m. A silent auction and raffle will be conducted during those hours. The music is set for 8 p.m.

Carlavee said people have been supportive of the auction and raffle. A furniture store in River Falls has provided a picture and there have been donations such as blankets. For those unable to attend the benefit but wishing to make a monetary donation, an account has been set up and these donations are being accepted at all WESTconsin Credit Union offices, under "The Carla Carlstrom Benefit Fund."