For 12 years Jodi Knudson has fought a disease that kept fighting back.
“It turned out that I had a tumor in my spine, that collapsed some vertebrae,” said Knudson, remembering when it first came back in 2002. “Statistically, I had about 2 years to live.”
But with help from her husband, Steve, and the rest of their family, Jodi continues to beat those odds, even as doctors implanted a defibrillator in her chest, and the cancer spread.
“She's a trooper,” said Steve Knudson. “I just don't know how she does it.”
As fate would have it, a new illness took aim at this couple last month.
“I decided to call Steve to see how his doctor appointment went and he wasn't making sense,” said Jodi. “He wasn't forming sentences.”
Fearing he was having a stroke, Steve was rushed to the hospital. They found a mass in his brain diagnosed as glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer. Doctors removed three tumors, but one area was malignant and inoperable.
“You're thinking 'Really?’” said Jodi. “How can all this bad stuff happen to us?”
On Friday, Steve will start radiation and chemo. The breadwinner, who worked full time at Boeing, can barely manage a household chore.
“I can sweep and vacuum for a half hour and then I'm just exhausted,” said Steve. “I need to take a break.”
“My dad has always been the rock,” said their 17 year old daughter Sophie. “He's always been the caretaker so it's weird to see the role reversal.”
Now the father of two can't help but worry for their daughters’ future. Average life expectancy for his cancer is a year.
“I want them to have college,” said Steve. “I want them to have all that's coming to them. And I'm just trying to think about how to do it.”
Steve's short term disability pay is only enough for the mortgage and utilities. That means getting use to asking for help. Friends have stocked their fridge with casseroles. Neighbors decorated their home for the holidays. The community is holding fundraisers to get them through their financial hardship.
As far as getting through the cancer, Steve says he's learned from the best.
“Now I want to be like her,” Steve said, looking at his wife. “I want to try to beat the odds. And fight it. We'll see what happens.”
On Friday, December 14th, thirty hair stylists at Gene Juarez are donating their commission during a fundraiser for the Knudsons. And the company has agreed to match their donation.
Anyone who wants to help should schedule a haircut from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alderwood Mall Gene Juarez in Lynnwood.
You can also donate at any US Bank to “the Knudson Family” account.