• Cancer

    In the Loop: She was told she had a year to live, 61 years ago

In the Loop patient Alice Kalin

More than 60 years ago, Alice Kalin was told the cancer in her leg would end her life. But a trip to Mayo Clinic and some advice from her surgeon would change everything.

Alice Kalin stood in the shower, tears streaming down her face. She'd been to the doctor, and the news was not good. There was a large tumor in her leg, and nothing could be done. "I was told to get my affairs in order," Alice tells us. "They said I had about a year left." She thought of her husband, of her five little children. And all she could do was cry.

Then she heard her husband's voice. "Get out of the shower," he told Alice, "there's someone here to see you." One of her husband's Air Force colleagues had come to the house. He was a new physician on the base and had trained at Mayo Clinic. He told Alice about one of his mentors, an orthopedic surgeon named William Bickel, M.D. "I think he can save your life," the young man told Alice. "My husband got emergency leave and we headed to Rochester," she says. They met with Dr. Bickel, and the rest — some 61 years later — is history. Joyful, wonderful, treasured history, some of which Alice, now 96, shared with us during a recent "pilgrimage" back to Rochester.

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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.