The day Linda Gallagher missed her regular 5:10 p.m. bus home from Rochester to Cannon Falls, Minnesota, her fellow bus riders noticed. "Somebody asked me about not seeing me that day, and so I just said, 'Well, something's going on,' and then I told her the story," Linda says.
The story goes something like this. A student in the Mayo School of Health Science's sonography program, Linda was in the lab one day this past summer when she says she felt a lump under her armpit. "I said something about it, and our lab instructor said, 'Oh, you should scan that.'" It turned out to be more than a learning opportunity. "When I scanned it, it looked like a malignant lymph node, so I scanned a little further and found what in our textbook was classic cancer," Linda says.
After Linda told Audrey Anderson, fellow commuter and a supervisor in the Immunodermatology and Mohs Laboratory, about her experience, Audrey asked if she could share Linda's news with some of the other regulars on their bus. "I said, 'Sure,' even though I don't like all of that attention," Linda says. Audrey, didn't stop at simply sharing Linda's news, however. She also organized a quilt-making party with some Linda's bus mates and sonography program classmates. And after the quilt was finished, they surprised Linda with it … with a little help.
"They surprised me in the Gonda 3 break room -- which is where we have a lot of our clinical -- by having the manager of the ultrasound unit send out an e-mail saying there was going to be a recognition event," Linda says. "It was all just to fake me out." And it worked. "When I got over there, there were my bus friends and all of my classmates," Linda says. "It was so cool because when I looked at the quilt, each square reflected the person who made it."
They didn't stop at the quilt. The bus group -- they affectionately calls themselves the "Bus Moms" – has also provided meals for Linda and her family throughout the course of her treatments at Mayo. And Audrey and Sylvia Belford stayed with Linda in the Emergency Room after she started coughing on the bus ride to work and began to have trouble breathing. "This is just what we do for friends," Audrey says. "We did it out of love and friendship, and because we wanted Linda to feel both included and supported."
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