WINTHROP - St Francis Catholic Church in Winthrop will hold a benefit on Sunday, June 22 for Corrine (Sloot) Fierkens.
For the last two years Fierkens has been fighting Stage 4 breast cancer. Fierkens has lived with muscular dystrophy, hearing loss, and spinal bifida occulta. Despite these adversities, Fierkens has lived an eventful life, serving as Miss Winthrop in 1991. She is a New Ulm Figure Skating Club Alumni. Even now, facing an extremely aggressive form a cancer Fierkens has not given up on recovery.
"I still have hope the cancer will go into remission," said Fierkens. "Bodies are amazing and capable of great recovery."
Corrine (Sloot) Fierkens and her son Ph’yn Fierkens. Corrine is fighting Stage 4 breast cancer.
She is undergoing radiation, is on pain meds and also using aternative methods.
Fierkens is effectively managing the side effects of chemo treatments. "I am 40 years old, and I am in it for the long haul, I am managing this cancer, but not destroying the body," she said.
Fierkens first learned of her cancer in the spring of 2010. After a round of genetic testing it was determined that she had stage one breast cancer. This particular genetic mutation runs in the maternal side of the family.
After two surgeries Fierkens believed she was in the clear. Then in 2012 she began experiencing pain that she associated with her muscular dystrophy. She made planned to check with a doctor. Before she could get a checkup Fierkens fell off a horse. The fall shattered her pelvis, and she learned the cancer had already spread to her bones.
Over the next two years Fierkens would sustain four fracture incidents. She is currently hospitalized in Colorado because she recently suffered a fractured vertebra and is confined to a neck brace. Fierkens may not be able to attend her own benefit, but hopes to attend by Skype.
As a result of her injuries Fierkens is no longer able to continuing doing therapeutic work with horses. Prior to being diagnosed with cancer Fierkens would teach therapeutic riding, re-training rescue horses, teaching kids to ride and adults to be better understand their mounts.
However, Fierkens has found a creative way to continue to support herself which includes her love of horses - Wraponies.
A Wrapony is a horse sculpture decorated with ribbons and other materials. Each Wrapony is symphony of color and shows off the animal's power. "They represents how I see horses," said Fierkens
The Wraponies started as a hobby, but now have become a full-time source of income to support Fierkens and her son Ph'yn.
The benefit on Sunday will feature several of these wraponies in the silent auction. Other action items include a one-week stay at cabin in North West Wisconsin on Trade Lake, sports memorabilia, autographed books by Garrison Keillo and gift baskets.
Fierkens and her family have a target goal of $50,000. This figure is the estimated cost of six months-worth of treatment after insurance.
"Obviously we want to extend my life," said Fierkens. The hope is that in six months there will be evidence of recovery. "I am not giving up on the goal of remission."
For Fierkens this benefit is not just a method of asking for help, but a chance to spread her story.
"No one's cancer journey should be in vain. We need to be open and share our experiences and make sure no one reaches Stage Four," she said.
On top of her many talents Fierkens is a writer. She has begun writing her blog on her experience with cancer. She decided to turn the blog into a book titled "Life's Little 'C' Words." In the book Fierkens wants to communicate there is no wrong way to go about fighting cancer, saying "Cancer is such a dynamic disease that varies from person to person. There is no one way to fight it."
Fierkens is under no illusion that she is fighting an uphill battle, describing her cancer as a "perfect storm" that can only be cured by a perfect storm of support.
Strong support is one thing Fierkens has in abundance.
As the youngest child of large family she literally has dozens of loved ones to help out. Fierkens is the youngest child of John and Minnie Sloot's 11 children.
Her siblings include Mary Graese, Lidy Flom, Bernie Quist, Harry Sloot, Kathy Wenninger, Yvonne Rands, Carol Rettmann, Vince Sloot, Gorette Hu, and Marc Sloot.
The benefit at St Francis church begins Sunday, June 22 at noon and will include a lunch of roast hog and bison, games and prizes for all ages, live music as well as the silent auction.
Those unable to attend can mail donations to Team-C FUNdraising Benefit, Attn: Carol (Sloot) Rettmann, 6211 W. 98th Street, Bloomington, MN 55438.
Others may donate through the website www.youcaring.com/corrine_sloot_fierkens_cancer.