Pink Heals II

By Margaret Downing


Connie and Jim Lynch met and started dating when they were students at Harlem High School. Jim, later an assistant principal at the school, graduated in 1962, Connie in 1964.

The couple married after getting out of school and went on to become parents to three children: Kristen, Dina and Darren.

Connie is a retired registered nurse, putting in 26 full time years at Rockford Memorial Hospital and another 14 years, part-time, at SwedishAmerican.

In 2012 Connie noticed a mass on her right forearm and went to her see primary doctor, Dr. Chantal Girud, who immediately sent Connie to see an expert.

Connie explains, “The mass had just popped out, it starts with just one cell.” It was removed.

She then underwent radiation treatments as she had been diagnosed with “high-grade lipo-sarcoma,” a rare type of cancer that begins in the fat cells.

However, by April of 2015 it metastasized and went into her spine. “We couldn’t believe it had gone into her spine,” Jim recalled.

Connie was sent to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she underwent a scan, biopsy and MRI tests.

She next underwent a long bout of chemotherapy, which caused her blood count to drop and she became susceptible to a bad infection as a result. She went on to have radiation treatments (36 from about September to December 2015). Jim noted how the rides to Madison and back were hard on his wife, as any bumps they hit caused her pain.

“In February of this year Connie underwent major spinal surgery where as much of the tumor as could be removed was completed, along with spinal fusion of nine vertebrae. They took out what they could but could not get all of it. The chemo was ongoing and this spring Connie was in a lot of pain due to the pain in her sacral or tailbone area in the lower spine. She had a third round of radiation and chemo in an attempt to eradicate the tumor. She is on pain meds with no chemo or radiation right now in the hopes that she can rebuild her strength,” Jim says.

The cancer is not in remission, Connie said, noting, “There is no remission.”

Jim says, “Connie was very weak from all of this and earlier this year fell coming into the house and fractured her scapula.”

She has spent the past six weeks trying to recoup some energy.

The couple is very pleased with the Primary Oncologist, Dr. Thomas McFarland at UW Madison. “He sent the tumor tissue from the original biopsy in her upper neck to Boston,” Jim explains. A bit more on that later.

Connie says, “It was a difficult time getting the pain medications regulated.” Her appetite has been improving.

Chad Hargraves, a volunteer with the North Park Fire Department is also a relative of Connie’s. Her sister, Leeanna Hargraves, held a get together July 23 at her home in Loves Park in support of Connie. Chad is also vice president of “Pain Heals,” a not-for-profit organization, whose local chapter was started in Winnebago County in 2013. Its mission statement is, “To provide Visionary Leaders and Local Businesses with a program that maintains fundraising dollars locally in support of all those with cancer and their families!”

Information from the Pink Heals website,, which initially supported women with breast cancer, notes: “Pink Heals uses the color pink to represent women, men and children, and their families, rather than a specific disease. Our ‘pink’ does not represent breast cancer. Pink Heals supports men, women, and children of Winnebago County in their fight against any cancer.

“The ‘Cares Enough to Wear Pink’ and the ‘Pink Heals Movement’ is not just about raising money and awareness for a disease but is much more profound…this is a program by the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE, and it’s free to adopt. We put our volunteerism and our labor of love to work for the people in our communities rather than for a single cause. The money raised by community efforts–individuals, public servants, or local businesses–stays local.”

The organization’s address is: PINK HEALS, Winnebago County, IL Chapter, 5062 Rockrose Ct., Suite 28, Roscoe, IL 61073.

As Jim Lynch says, “Pink Heals provides a morale booster and offers the community, friends and relatives the chance to pour forth a lot of love. As an example, Connie was seated in the sun as pictures were taken of her in front of the Pink Heals (pink) fire truck. One of the volunteers held a large umbrella for a good 45 minutes to protect her from the sun. It is a great organization.”

There is some hope for Connie and her family as tumor tissue, at Dr. McFarland’s recommendation, was sent for genetic testing in Massachusetts to see if it is feasible to utilize gene therapy, a fairly new procedure, on Connie.

The prayers and hope of Connie’s many friends and relatives are with the Lynch family today.


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