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C hanhassen





Pink is complicated
Moving from
awareness to action

Program expected to
cost $285,000 in 2016


The Carver County Board Tuesday voted

unanimously to hire an Aquatic Invasive
Species specialist to oversee the countys
program in 2016 and potentially beyond.
The hiring range for the position is
between $66,000 $88,000, according to a
staff report.
The AIS program coordinator will oversee about 45 seasonal inspectors who check
watercraft for invasive species at public
access sites in the county.
The program has been primarily managed by the countys Parks Department the
past several years. This year the county has
shifted the program to the countys Planning & Water Management Department.
The salary for the new hire will be
funded from money the county receives
from the state for AIS purposes. Currently
the county receives $132,000 from the state.
If that money is reduced, the county would
have to evaluate whether to maintain the
AIS supervisor position, according to Paul
Moline, Planning & Water Management
C om m i s sioner Tom Work m a n , of
Chanhassen, moved the motion to add the
AIS program coordinator. Commissioner

ctober is Breast Cancer

Awareness month, bringing a f lood of pink rib bons, pink T-shirts, pink
pens, pink travel mugs
and more. NFL teams show
their solidarity with the
fight against breast cancer
by wearing pink gloves,
shoes and socks. And there are public
service announcements, ads in print, TV
and radio reminding women to routinely
check their breasts and schedule mammograms.
The pink ribbon represents national
unity to raise breast cancer awareness
and raise money for research and a cure.
But for Judy Erdahl of Minnetonka,
pink is complicated. For Erdahl, 53,
Octobers tsunami of pink is a bittersweet
reminder that she once believed that she
beat her breast cancer.
I thought (after five years) if it didnt
spread to your lymph nodes, you would be
fine, Erdahl said. I didnt understand it
could spread through your bloodstream
to other parts of your body as well.
Erdahl is a former member of the Minnetonka School Board. She served from
2001 to 2007 and was board chair in her
last year. She also worked in the school
district as Minnetonka Preschool and
ECFE coordinator. For the past four-anda-half years shes been living with stage
IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

Coordinator to 2 


It was April 2006 when Erdahl was
first diagnosed. Her breast cancer had
been caught early; shed had a lumpectomy, then a single mastectomy; underwent
chemo and a regimen of breast cancer
treatment drugs.


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Pink to 20 

County to
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Judy Erdahl and Chewbacca at home in Minnetonka.



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Judy Hallin

 continued from 1

Erdahl remembers floating out of the doctors office

after that checkup in 2011.
Things looked good.
Im done, Im home free,
Erdahl recalls telling her
Erdahl shared her good
news with a woman in the
elevator, but the womans
reaction was unexpected.
She just looked at me,
shook her head and said, Oh,
honey. I thought, What the
heck, what was she doing,
raining on my parade?
Then two days later, Erdahls doctor called. Erdahls
tumor marker test showed
cancer proteins in her blood
Im so lucky my doctor did
do blood tests at that check
up, Erdahl said. Since my
check-up six months before,
those markers had doubled.
Further tests, scans, and
finally a bone biopsy revealed
that a spot in her cervical
spine was breast cancer cells.
Erdahl remembered the
woman in the elevator.
It never struck me at the
time that she was a MBC
patient, Erdahl said. Now
she understood the womans
reaction. Being cancer-free
for five years is no guarantee. Theres an estimated 28
percent to 36 percent chance
for breast cancer survivors
that breast cancer will recur
elsewhere and metastasize,
she said.
Breast cancer in your
breast wont kill you, Erdahl
said. You die when it spreads
outside your breast.

Statistics on all cancers,
including breast cancer are
published by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End
Results (SEER) Program of
the National Cancer Institute. According to its website, SEER works to provide
information on cancer statistics in an effort to reduce
the burden of cancer among
the U.S. population. It is the
source used by the American
Cancer Society, Erdahl said,
as well as researchers and
doctors treating breast cancer. SEER is one of the sites
she uses in her research on
According to SEERs current published information,
the number of new cases of
breast cancer was 124.8 per
100,000 women per year. The
number of deaths was 21.9
per 100,000 women per year.
These rates are age-adjusted

Age: 53
Residence: Minnetonka
Family: Husband Steve
Erdahl, adult sons Luke,
23, who is attending
medical school in
Missouri; and Ranen,
21, who is attending
Augsburg College.


The members of TEAM Judy are, front row, from left, Marisa Frankenfield, Mary Kuhn, Karen Morgan, Judy
Erdahl, Laurie Lokar, Pam Langseth. Back row, from left, Joan Glennon, Marcia Mayo, Peggy Stefan, Kate
Bryant, Cathy Maes, Maureen Kvam, Sharon Garber and Tammy Magney. Not pictured, Becky Thompson.
and based on 2008-2012 cases
and deaths. Lifetime risk of
developing cancer: Approximately 12.3 percent of women
will be diagnosed with breast
cancer at some point during
their lifetime, based on 20102012 data. Prevalence of this
cancer: In 2012, there were
an estimated 2,975,314 women
living with breast cancer in
the United States.
SEER says that survival
statistics are based on large
groups of people and cant be
used to predict exactly what
will happen to an individual
patient. No two patients are
entirely alike, and treatment
and responses to treatment
can vary greatly.
There are actually 10 different subtypes of breast
cancer, Erdahl was surprised
to learn in her MBC research.
Thats what people dont
understand, Erdahl said.
And thats what makes it so
hard for the medical community researchers ... Its really
complicated. Its like a lot of
illnesses; no ones story is
the same.
But as Erdahl has learned,
there is no current database
in place that tracks what
happens to breast cancer survivors after five years.
The SEER Data Institute
is the major organization in
the U.S. that houses all this
data on cancer and diagnoses, Erdahl said. Whats
scary is that once Ive been
counted as having stage 1A
breast cancer, they do not
get updated i n for mation
that I have metastisized, so
Im not on their radar. Instead, when I die, it wont be
recorded as an MBC death,
but cause of death will be
whatever complications I
die from, pneumonia, liver

Judy Erdahls husband, Steve, did the honors when it

was time for her buzz cut Sept. 30.
failure, but not MBC.
How will you have accurate data to know how well
youre fixing the problem,
or how big the problem is? If
Im not being counted, how
will there be accurate data?
It makes me feel that Im not
very important. I want to be
counted, she said.


Erdahl believes knowledge is power. While raising
breast cancer awa reness
is still important, Erdahl
said its time for the pink
campaign to take the next
step to raise awareness
and research funds for MBC
Susan G. Komen has done
a great job, Erdahl said, because a national conversation
was needed; 30 years ago, you
couldnt say the word breast.

We needed to talk about early

detection and they needed to
spend that money. But its
failed to grow and mature
and pay attention to how societys knowledge and information has changed.

T E A M Judy coa lesced
sometime during Erdahls
first bout of breast cancer;
Erdahl thinks it was 2008.
Im so lucky, Erdah l
s a id , when a s ke d ab out
T EA M Judy, a close -knit
group of friends who rallied
to support and encourage her
when she was first diagnosed.
She fingered a necklace she
wears. It says grateful, and
I am. I am grateful that this
circumstance allowed me
to have close relationships.
Sometimes it takes adversity but I know who my real

I am a survivor.

Nationally recognized cancer care and more from

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education and support.

Now in Chaska and Waconia

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I matter here.

friends are. I really do.

In the beginning they participated in breast cancer
fundraising events.
When Erdahl began participating in the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance
(MBCA), she and TEAM Judy
asked t hemselves, what
can we do to raise funds for
MBCA research? Erdahl
remembered. What could
we do locally? MBCA members include pharmaceutical
companies and foundations.
Erda h l lea r ned t hat it
doesnt take millions of dollars to support MBCA research. The Masonic Cancer
Center at the University of
Minnesota is one of 40 desig nated Nationa l Ca ncer
Institutes in the nation. Its
a phenomenal diamond of
a facility in our own backyard, Erdahl said, and 100
percent of fundraising goes
to research. So we decided
to send our money to them.
Still, Erdahl and TEAM
Judy wondered how they
could raise enough to make
a difference.
They learned every little
bit helps.
It only takes $ 5,000 to
$25,000. Erdahl said. The
researchers use those small
amounts of funding to get
baseline data to apply for the
big grants. So you can make
a huge difference by funding
a little bit.
As for their fundraising,
theyve cut out the walking.
Now we do wine, Erdahl said with a laugh and
described how, once a year,
in summer, a friend hosts a
night where their combined
network of friends gathers
to enjoy a night of wine and
appetizers. Its casual and
social. People drop in, make
a donation to the Masonic
Center and mingle. Doctors
and researchers attend and
share news on MBC research.
They make it understandable and approachable, she
said. Everyone knows someone who has breast cancer.

I dont want to be angry
about the pink ribbons, Erdahl said. I want to educate.
Theres a part of me that
understands the pink. Its a
natural human response to

Background: Spent
most of her childhood in
Excelsior; graduated from
high school in Lubbock,
Texas. Attended the
University of Minnesota
with a degree in
Elected to the Minnetonka
School Board in 2001, and
served as board chair in
2007; was coordinator of
Minnetonka Preschool
and ECFE.
Diagnosed with breast
cancer in 2006, and
metastatic Stage IV in
2011. Is an advocate for
MBC research, raising
awareness among
women, and men, about
MBC, especially among
those whove reached
their 5-year milestone.

have this unifying, rallying

cry, an emotional thing that
brings us all together. At least
thats what it used to be, but
now I feel its a bully. Theres
people with other types of
cancer and they must feel like
nothing in October. There are
so many kinds of cancer.
There is no cancer that
is easy to have, Erdahl said.
When I was first diagnosed, I really believed, because of the media saturation,
I can do this. We feel its OK
to have a breast amputated, to
lose our hair; OK to do chemo.
Its OK because its all going to
be fine. I think I believed that.
I was really shocked when it
came back. And very, very
grateful I had a doctor that
followed me as closely as he
did ... I want there to be a balance; for women not to live in
fear but have knowledge and
be armed with education to
take care of themselves.

Am I a survivor? Erdahl
said. I dont like the warrior
references It doesnt mean
the cancer has won. Its not
about winning or losing, but
choosing how you live your
life. It doesnt mean I lost my
battle or that I didnt fight hard
enough. Sixty five percent of
breast cancer patients believe
that cancer returns because
they did something wrong.
It makes them feel safer but
theres a huge lack of knowledge and understanding. But I
think the tide is turning. I can
feel it just starting. People are
organizing, Komen is doing
its baby steps, the MBCA is
doing its work. It makes me
hopeful, but there are a lot of
people who wont see it come
to fruition. I just want to be
acknowledged and recognized
in the month of October.