Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

October 15, 2013

Cancer survivor credits her healing to God

TAHLEQUAH — When life is at its bleakest point, people often turn to faith to lift them up.

Cancer survivor Betty Kosterlistzkey credits the Lord for her remission from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood that affects the bone marrow.

In 2007, Kosterlistzkey was working at the Stilwell hospital. She was losing weight, and her co-workers began to notice.

“They were wondering why, and it kind of irritated me at first,” said Kosterlistzkey. “I was eating, and I had always been quick to say if something was wrong with me.”

Shortly thereafter, Kosterlistzkey took a trip to California with her daughter. When they returned, Kosterlistzkey noticed her back was aching.

“It was like a pinched nerve; the pain ran all the way down my leg,” she said. “I went to [W.W.] Hastings [Hospital] to find out what was wrong. This would have been in July 2007. It took a long time to get a diagnosis. They kept sending me to the emergency room and I couldn’t understand why.”

Finally, that November, Kosterlistzkey returned to the emergency room one more time.

“Dr. [Randall] Turner was the physician on that trip,” said Kosterlistzkey. “I had had X-rays before, but they couldn’t seem to explain what was wrong with me. He’s the one who found [the cancer].”

Turner sat down with Kosterlistzkey, and she felt a sense of foreboding.

“He patted me on the knee, and I thought, ‘Oh, no,’” said Kosterlistzkey. “That’s when he told me I had cancer. He tried to get me into the Tulsa hospitals, but we couldn’t because of the ice storms. He finally got me into Tahlequah City Hospital, where they did a bone marrow test and found out what I had: multiple myeloma, exactly.”

Kosterlistzkey didn’t have to undergo surgery, but she did spend the next year in treatment.

“At first, my kidneys were in bad shape, so they sent me to Fort Smith for dialysis,” she said. “Once that was over with, they turned my name in to the hospital in Little Rock, Ark., and within 30 days my name was drawn and I was admitted.”

Her daughter, who was working at the time, quit her job to help her while she stayed in Little Rock.

“I underwent chemotherapy, along with treatment to split my blood up,” said Kosterlistzkey. “They were giving me my own platelets. They say there’s no such thing as chemo vein, but there is.”

Kosterlistzkey chokes back tears when relating the story. “I tell you, if it weren’t for the Lord...,” she said, as her voice trails off. “He’s the one who cured me.”

She also credits prayer for medical success.

“My sister, my family, all of them prayed for me,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d not have made it.”

During Kosterlistzkey’s treatment, her daughter tried to keep her mind off the negative side of the situation.

“My daughter kept my spirits up; she wouldn’t let me dwell on it,” she said. “We’d go to Walmart and shop. It’s funny; there were times when she’d air out the room, because she said I smelled like burnt corn. My children and my family kept me going. I praise God.”

As with most cancer patients, once the disease is in remission, doctor visits occur every three months for a year, then every six months, and finally are reduced to once a year.

“I go once a year now,” said Kosterlistzkey. “It’s kind of funny, because when they told me I didn’t have to come back for a year, I didn’t know what to do. It was like losing a security blanket. As long as I was going to the doctor regularly, I knew I was OK. They kept telling me I am just like everyone else now, but sometimes I have trouble understanding I’m cancer-free. It’s hard to make your brain understand that, that I’m cancer-free.”

tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Features
  • Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals

    One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    April 17, 2014

  • rf-Zoe-thing.jpg Conference attendees get words of encouragement

    Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
    Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks