Kikkan Randall’s cancer year – Part 3

Kikkan Randall tackles cancer treatment and tough choices with help from friends and fans

By Marc Lester
Part 3, August: Kikkan Randall adjusts to a wearying chemo regimen and increasing sickness with the support of friends.

Third of six parts

Nurse practitioner Erica Fossler wondered if it was an odd time to congratulate Kikkan Randall on her gold medal. “Bummer that I have to meet you this way,” she said as they entered an exam room at Katmai Oncology Group before Randall’s third chemotherapy treatment.

“I come into each infusion energetic, happy, positive,” Randall responded.

But days between treatments could be tough. Randall said her legs would get heavy a couple days after an infusion. Energy dropped off steeply and intestinal upset started.

Her health took a pummeling in August, after her second infusion. An infection left her with a fever and sore throat. She lost her voice for more than a week.

Randall also had to travel for chemo because of a health insurance issue.

She and her husband, Jeff Ellis, relocated to British Columbia in the weeks after she finished her last competitive season. Ellis had a job waiting there. The couple bought a home.

But Randall was a new resident of Canada when she was diagnosed with cancer and medical coverage wasn’t in place. The United States Olympic Committee allowed her to stay on its health insurance program, she said. That was a huge relief for Randall.

“My first infusion — I just got the itemized bill — $67,000 for one day of infusions,” Randall said in July.

On the day before her third chemo infusion, Randall began another of many travel days back to Alaska from British Columbia. She wore her wig for the first time.

“I felt like I was playing dress-up,” she said.

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