October 4, 2022 at 4:08 p.m.

Focusing on family, friends, faith 

Focusing on family, friends, faith 
Focusing on family, friends, faith 

By Carol [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Stich family recovering from medical issues with precious prayers, laughter


Randy and Jen Stich were told in June Randy had an ependymoma, a rare cancerous tumor inside his spinal cord.  

“He made the comment that he was really special,” Jen said laughing Sept. 29 sitting around the kitchen table in their rural Albany home with Randy and their teenage children Kyle, 17, and Hailee, 15. 

Laughter and support from family and friends have gotten the Stich family through the past 10 months as they dealt with medical issues, starting with Jen who was diagnosed with breast cancer Dec. 22, 2021, Randy’s tumor removal July 5 and Hailee’s hip surgery Aug. 23. Not to be left out, Kyle had four wisdom teeth pulled Aug. 12.  

Prayers for their family have been precious.  

“When you are getting the prayers, you can legitimately feel it,” Randy said.  

Going through this has given them a fresh outlook on life and what they prioritize said Randy, who used to work at lot as owner of Randy Stich Construction. 

 “For me, this put things into perspective about what’s important in life. It’s our friends and family,” Jen said. “I will not take for granted each beautiful day God gives me. I believe God allowed us to bear these crosses so that we can use our journey to help others and glorify him.”

Randy and Jen, married 19 years, reminisced about how the met. 

“I worked for her dad, (Brent Nehring),” said Randy, who was raised in St. Anthony, the son of Ralph and Mary Stich.

At the time, Jen lived in Monticello with her mom, DeDe Hinrichs. 

They married in 2003. Kyle was born Oct. 17, 2004, and Hailee was born March 29, 2007.

Randy started his construction company in 2004. Jen works for Falcon National Bank. 

Last December, two weeks before a scheduled mammogram, Jen discovered a lump in her left breast. Three days before Christmas she was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer where the cells have receptors that allow them to use the hormone estrogen to grow. It was considered stage 3 because it had spread to one lymph node. 

“My grandma had breast cancer, but they are saying what I had is not hereditary,” Jen said. 

Genetic testing supported that. 

In January, she started six rounds of chemotherapy, every 21 days at Coborn Cancer Center in St. Cloud. In May, she had a double mastectomy and removal of several lymph nodes.

“I had a choice of having a lumpectomy or mastectomy, and I chose to get rid of it all because there was an area of concern on the right side,” Jen said. “I wanted to reduce my chances of ever going through this again.”

A biopsy determined there was no cancer remaining.

“The chemo did its job,” Jen said. “But we choose to believe the prayers from everybody had a hand in it.”  

Jen also had 25 rounds of radiation. 

She didn’t have many side effects. Her sister, who is a hair stylist, cut her long, blonde hair before she started chemo.

Smiling, Randy said, “I thought she looked good bald.” 

Her hair has grown back, a darker color, and she recently had her first haircut.  

Every three weeks she receives infusions of two drugs “to keep the estrogen at bay so the cancer can’t grow again,” she said. 

Jen will take Tamoxifen for the next five years.

She was recovering from her mastectomy when Randy was diagnosed with a tumor inside the cervical region of his spinal chord. 

“Basically, my neck,” Randy said. 

He had been dealing with tingling sensations in his hands and legs for two years and was treated for carpel tunnel. 

“When I sneezed, pain would shoot up my arms,” he said. 

That led to a second opinion when the tumor was discovered.  

“I suspected something,” he said. “You know your body more than anybody else.” 

A four-centimeter long by two-centimeter wide tumor was removed from his spine during a nine-hour surgery July 5 at the St. Cloud Hospital. It was a grade 2 ependymoma, the kind that does not spread outside of the spinal cord. 

It was a delicate surgery.   

 “They had pins in my skull so they could test my nerves while working inside the spinal cord,” he said. 

With nerves running up and down the spine, they were thankful the tumor was not growing into his nerves, which made it easier to remove.

This type of cancer usually affects children. 

“It’s relativity rare in adults,” he said, with around 200 cases a year. 

Doctors figure the slow growing tumor had been in place a few years.  

Randy, thankful the neurosurgeon had the knowledge to remove the tumor, asked him how he learned to do this using technology and his hands.

“And he said it’s just like how you build a house and use your hands,” he said.  

Randy was in the hospital seven days, including on his birthday. They all smile when recalling a funny incident with a birthday cake they brought to his room and ended up in pieces.  

“Laughter helps you heal,” he said. 

Randy had to learn how to walk again. 

“When I woke up, I couldn’t feel my feet,” he said. “Some of it was because of where they had to cut through the muscle and nerves to get to it (the tumor).”

 The nerve connection from the brain to his legs and hands has to heal, which could be a slow process taking a few years.  

“I’ve got it back now, but there is still tingling,” he said.

At times throughout the healing process his nerves are over stimulated, causing his legs to hurt. 

“It’s all part of my healing process, they tell me, but it’s frustrating to deal with and understand when you are in the thick of it,” he said. 

An MRI following surgery showed the entire tumor was removed, which meant no further treatments.

Kyle and Hailee were sources of support during each of their parent’s recoveries. And that was reciprocated when Hailee had surgery for hip dysplasia Aug. 23 in Rochester, after suffering a torn labrum playing volleyball in March. 

“After the torn labrum, it was discovered she had hip dysplasia, which likely was the cause of the torn labrum,” Jen said.

“I could have been born with it,” Hailee said.

She thought it was normal that she could pop her hip out of her socket and crack her hips, only to find out it was because of the dysplasia. 

Kyle smiles when they talk about his dental surgery, which was a piece of cake, compared to the rest of his family. 

“Everybody’s on the mend,” Randy said. 

An Albany Area High School sophomore, Hailee is not able to play volleyball this season, but she is on the bench each game taking stats. Kyle, a senior, is anxious to start hunting and hit the snowmobile trails.

Jen has been working from home during most of this, but is starting to go back to the office a few days a week.

Self-employed, Randy is returning to work a few hours each day. 

They appreciate continued support, including a benefit organized by Randy’s best friends and classmates starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, at Shady’s Hometown Tavern in Albany.

“The generosity from people, even people you don’t know,” Randy said.

They plan on attending the benefit and look forward to visiting with people.

At the center of these past 10 months has been their strong Christian faith, knowing with God in their lives they can handle anything.  

“My relationship with God has gotten much closer,” Jen said. “I’ve learned how important our faith is.” 

Life is special for the Stich family as they focus on faith, family and friends – with lots of laughter thrown in. 


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