Kasson couple choose to be survivors, not victims
Dale Ulve attended school in Lake Mills, Iowa. His father had a farm tiling business so he would work for him during the summer months growing up with his five siblings.
He drew number two in the military draft lottery, so he enlisted in the Army after graduation. He was at Ft. Lewis, Wash. For basic training, and sent to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. for AIT construction training. He was stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C. and then two years in Maintenance at the 2nd General Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
After Dale was discharged from the service, he worked for various positions in farm tile sales, and operated heavy equipment for several companies in this area. He joined the IUOE 49 (International Union of Operating Engineer, Local 49) in 1989.
Linda (Thompson) Ulve grew up in Hayfield with one brother and she graduated from Hayfield High School. She was very involved with the band and choir programs. These were the years when Hayfield had a couple of great basketball teams that qualified for the Minnesota State tournament, and the band also went to the games. Since her father was a WWII veteran and her mother was very patriotic, Linda also participated with some of the local Legion activities each year.
After high school Linda started as a dental assistant in Rochester. She took classes offered by the University of Minnesota, and became a Registered Dental Assistant, and worked at a couple of dental offices in Rochester for the next three years.
She was married, and after her first child was born, she was a stay at home mom and started a day care service in their Hayfield home. Operating a day care service in her home was a good way for her to be around her children, to see them growing up, and seeing such things as their first steps, a new tooth, etc. as she was home with them. It was a great job for her when she learned the goals and the expectations of the parents and be in good communications with the parents.
After about eight years in the daycare business, she worked at a number of local (Hayfield) companies. In 1989 she accepted a position at CFMIC, a local Township Mutual Insurance Company, in Kasson, and has worn many hats including: secretary/receptionist, administrative assistant, assistant manager and manager and a member of the Board of Directors. She continues to work part time at the insurance agency in Kasson.
After her divorce, Linda, mother of two children, Tyler and Tiffani, each having graduated from Hayfield High School, moved to Kasson in 1994. Dale, also previously married, had two children, Michelle and Jeff. Jeff was still attending K-M High School.
Dale and Linda were married in July 1995 at St John’s Lutheran in Kasson, and have resided in Kasson ever since. They both graduated from different high schools in the same year, but Dale reminds Linda that she is 16 days older than he is when their birthdays come around each year!
Dale would need to go to the job sites in various places during his working career. He would often leave Kasson at 5 a.m. and not return until 9 p.m. six days a week. Dale continued as an operating engineer until he retired in 2009 due to health reasons.
Instead of just being able to just lounge and play golf in retirement, Linda lined up a job for him. He was part of Loss Control for three area Township Mutual Insurance Companies conducting routine inspections for insurance purposes for the next 12 years. He still works part time for one insurance company with insurance inspections.
In December of 2009, he found blood in his urine, and after a CT scan Dale was diagnosed with both colon and bladder cancer. A month later he had surgery to remove a foot of his colon and one of his kidneys. He learned that he has a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome which predisposed him to certain cancers. He has since been diagnosed with seven additional cancers such as lung, skin, bladder, and ureter, all associated with Lynch Syndrome.
In 2017, Dale was again diagnosed with bladder cancer, and subsequently he lost his second kidney resulting in the need to begin hemodialysis. It is a form of “life support” that is done three times a week in approximately four-hour sessions. This process removes toxins and cleans his blood. After he had both his kidneys removed, he asked his doctor “how long can I expect to live without kidneys?” He was told “Until you die,” and none of us know exactly when we will die!
After one-and-one-half years of hemodialysis at Mayo three times a week, the Ulve’s were invited to attend classes to learn how to do the entire process at home.
Six weeks later, a storeroom full of supplies arrived, step by step instructions to insert the two needles in his arm, take blood pressures, administer medications, monitor venous and arterial pressures, diet and weight management, and alarm interpretations. Blood draws, supply orders, scheduled deliveries, emergency phone numbers, and with a lot of prayers, they began a new journey together!
Dale and Linda did it with determination, love, respect, and faith!! They even recorded a video in their home to help promote home dialysis at Mayo Clinic, and it is still being used today. They continued to do dialysis at home for five years. They were able to travel to Florida armed with the necessary supplies and enjoyed a full month there! They were indeed living their “New Normal!”
Ultimately, complications and additional medical problems, a few 911 calls and a multitude of Mayo Clinic appointments caused the Ulve’s to revisit the home dialysis vs In-Center process. After an agonizing decision, they chose to return to the In-Center in February 2023.
They have adjusted to a Monday — Wednesday — Friday In-Center dialysis schedule at the Mayo northeast Clinic. After a three-week transition with Linda providing the sanitizing, site prep, assisting the needle insertion (cannulation) (using a thin tube into the vein or body cavity) and taping in place as well as the removal and bandaging post treatment, they have confidently transferred these duties to the amazing Mayo staff. Dale is now able to drive himself to and from the treatments and is doing well.
The staff at the Eisenberg Dialysis, Home Dialysis, and the northeast Mayo Clinic have all proven to be very encouraging, competent and extremely caring throughout Ulve’s journey, and as a result, treatments are usually successful and uneventful.
At times, the Ulve’s require being at Mayo five times per week — so they are grateful, living in Kasson, that they are within 20 minutes of the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and rather easy to let this routine “become their Lives.” As time goes on, Dale and Linda are less apprehensive and are able to take it one day at a time.
Dale was evaluated by Mayo Clinic to be a candidate for a kidney transplant only to learn the use of anti-rejection medications, necessary for transplant success, is not suggested for Lynch Syndrome patients. Anti-rejection medications are used to lower resistance to the kidney and prevent rejection of the transplanted organ, but in doing so, a Lynch patient would increase the chance of additional cancers by up to 70%. This is a chance Dale and Linda chose not to take!
They have a basic Kidney Dialysis suggested diet which Dale generally follows. He currently has no “absolute restrictions” because his blood tests routinely come back satisfactorily. He must limit his fluids and eats in moderation. They limit the number of fast foods or pre-packaged/processed foods and try to keep the proper levels of potassium and phosphorus in his diet so things like potatoes, bananas are limited. Fortunately, Dale is not diabetic.
Dale enjoys hunting, cooking, watching TV (especially during the 4-hour dialysis period) and is a Vikings fan. He will get out to the Hayfield golf course one or two times each week.
Linda loves to sing and enjoys decorating their Kasson home where they have lived for 20 years. Her father was a very good vegetable gardener, but she tried it once and gave up doing this, but really enjoys planting and taking care of her flowers at their home.
She is a reader, especially self-help books and books about heaven. They dine out occasionally and love finding new places to try. They have taken bus trips to Maine in the fall, Niagara Falls, Washington DC, the Black Hills and the Norwegian celebration Hostfest in Minot, N.D.
They enjoy playing cards with friends and family. They especially enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren, Tiffani and Jason Dover, Creed and Mack, Heather Mundy, Katelyn, Bre and Caleb, Jeff and Abby Ulve, Kason and Maverick. Occasional outings with good friends are treasured.
The Ulve’s attend Trinity Lutheran in Hayfield where Linda has sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, and Bible School, served on the Church Council and together they have served as ushers.
By the Grace of God, and a solid marriage commitment, Dale and Linda are able to find pleasure in their life. They laugh, pray, enjoy friends and family, maintain their home and occasionally do a day or even a two-day trip to get away! Together they are prepared to proceed with their journey and do so with the faith in God, a strong feeling of gratitude and a sense of humor.
Cancer has touched their lives, affecting two children in their combined family. Michelle Ulve, passed away after a seven-year battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 1994 at the age of 18 and a few months after graduating from K-M and Tyler Mundy who passed away after a 19-month battle with Multiple Myeloma in 2017 at age 44.
Both sets of parents and three of Dale’s siblings, all deceased, have been touched by cancer.
Although this is not the “retirement” Dale and Linda were preparing or dreaming of, they feel truly blessed each and every day. They don’t just exist with cancer, but they truly “Live with Cancer”! Linda says there are two kinds of people in our world: Victims and Survivors, and they choose to be the survivors.
They have enjoyed living in Kasson as it is close to their children, and several of their grandchildren, they have great neighbors, plus it is close to Mayo and many of the stores are not far away. They enjoy their gatherings with family members especially at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter times.
Each morning when Linda gets up, she will look at a plaque that is hung on a wall in their home with these words: Good Morning This is God... I will be handling all your PROBLEMS today!
Photo: Submitted Photo Linda and Dave Ulve.