Paulette Domier recently endured a major life-threatening crisis due to complications of cancer treatment. Because of it, she is striving to put normalcy back into her life.
The journey toward that goal has followed a long and winding road, filled with several unexpected twists and turns that have resulted in enormous expenses related to medical care, treatment and travel, and other extended services required.
In an effort to make this burden a little lighter, family and friends are rallying around Paulette with a special benefit planned for Friday, Aug. 10, at the Harwood Community Center, 210 Freedland Drive. The event will take place from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and will feature a silent auction, live auction, raffle drawings, food and dance.
Many readers know and remember Paulette from her 30-year career as Library-para for the West Fargo School District based at Harwood Elementary School. She and her husband, Dennis, an employee at Roers Construction, Fargo, are longtime Harwood residents and continue to live there. They are the parents of three grown daughters, Tonya and husband Michael Sitarz, and son and daughter, Brandon and Danica of Otsego, Minn.; Tammy and husband Jayme Cheney of West Fargo; and Traci and husband Mike Arzt, and their two sons, John and Alex, of Harwood.
Paulette was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in the spring of 2008. The effects of the treatments necessitated a leave of absence from her library duties which led her to an early retirement.
At the time, doctors at Rochester discovered a tumor that they were able to remove 99 percent of, leaving another small one behind that was wrapped around Paulette's ureter. The options were to remove the kidney or conduct chemotherapy in an effort to shrink the remaining tumor. Doctors opted for the latter. Paulette underwent eight chemotherapy treatments and went into remission, but had a recurrence a year later, which resulted in six more chemo treatments, followed by two more years of remission.
In January of this year Paulette learned that the cancer had returned, with tests revealing a tumor in a lymph node near her liver.
Consequently, Paulette revisited her same surgeon at Rochester for another surgical procedure which doctors described as successful, telling the family that Paulette would be able to go home in about five days to a week.
A few days later Paulette became seriously ill. Doctors then reopened her wound to perform exploratory surgery which revealed a knick in her bowel caused from the previous surgery. They were able to repair it and put an ileostomy in place to give her bowels time to heal. Soon after, Paulette went into septic shock, an extremely serious condition that occurs when an overwhelming infection gets in the blood leading to life-threatening low blood pressure and resulting in poor organ function and the possibility of total organ shutdown.
The family was told to prepare for the worst.
Following that it was touch and go. Paulette remained in the Intensive Care Unit for 12 days, sedated and on life support for eight of those days.
Throughout this time, she developed several different kinds of infections, received respective treatments, and after a highly stressful, six-week, bedside vigil by the Domier family, was deemed well enough to return to Fargo for extended nursing care. For the next two months Paulette underwent nutritional therapy for severe malnourishment, physical therapy and another surgery to reverse her ileostomy.
On July 21, four months from her first surgery in March, she was finally well enough to go home to Harwood, where she continues to recuperate and undergo follow-up treatments with doctors monitoring closely how she is progressing and how her wounds are healing. There is a possibility she might have to endure another surgery to reopen the wound because it doesn't appear to be healing the way doctors would like it to.
At some point, she will also need more chemotherapy as a precautionary type measure for any residual disease remaining. The nature of the disease is that it is 'treatable but not curable' - meaning more likely bouts of remission followed by relapse that would require additional chemotherapy.
Daughter Tonya, who travels to Fargo to visit her mom as often as she can, said the family is so happy to have their mother home, adding that she "is upbeat, doing pretty well and gaining more strength every day. She is an incredible inspiration to us all."
"The last four months have been a really tough road for our family and we know we wouldn't have been able to get through it without the incredible out-pour of prayers and support from all of our friends, family and surrounding communities. We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We thank God every day that mom is here with us. She still has quite a journey ahead of her, but we know that she will be able to power through whatever comes her way with her faith, determination and the amazing support and love from you all. We are hoping to personally express our gratitude to many of you at the benefit."
The entire family will be in attendance for the benefit which is open to everyone wishing to attend the evening of socializing and fun.
The event will feature a variety of food including Taco-in-a-Bag and Barbecues for which a free will donation will be accepted. There will also be a live auction featuring a variety of pies, all home made by local people wishing to help out, that will go to the highest bidders.
Silent auction items will be plentiful and include: a number of restaurant gift certificates; golf packages; an auto car starter and installation; tickets for the Fargo Force games; Vikings jerseys; salon/spa certificates and baskets; and a host of other items too numerous to mention.
Among the other separate raffle-type giveaways that will be featured throughout the evening will be: a special board for an LG 55-inch LED TV; a drawing for a homemade quilt and a 30-06 rifle; plus a 50-50 promotion that will result in half of ticket sales going to the winning number holder and the other half to the Domier fund.
A cash bar will also be available and the evening will conclude with music by local band "Honky Tomson."
Those unable to attend but would still like to make a contribution can do so by directing cash or check donations payable to the Paulette Domier Benefit Fund at Harwood State Bank, PO Box 5, Harwood, ND 58042. You can also make an online gift at: www.dakmed.org/lendahand, click donate. DMF Lend a Hand will be matching funds up to $5,000 and Thrivent Lutheran Cass County Chapter will be providing additional funds.