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Caring Bridge patient continues battle through holidays

Last summer cancer patient Anne Notch was jubilant after catching a lunker walleye. Her struggle - with the fish and with cancer - generated many reader responses. Readers can keep in touch and follow Anne's progress through her Caring Bridge Web site.

Last summer Anne Notch, daughter-in-law of Ralph and Sherri Notch of New Frontier Resort on Long Lake battled a monster walleye into the net, a goal she wanted to accomplish despite her ongoing fight against cancer. One day later, her daughter Natalie landed another big walleye, a milestone in Anne's life.

Readers were captivated by Anne's story and many have asked for an update on her status.

According to Anne Notch's Caring Bridge Web site, chemotherapy and drug treatments for her illness have ceased following results from her most recent CAT scan. She has gained ten pounds, but unfortunately the weight was a result of tumors and swelling. Her doctors recommended a shift of direction to palliative care - care focused on comfort rather then cancer regression.

Despite the increased pain with the cancer's progression, Anne Notch experienced joy over the holidays.

"Last Wednesday evening, we were blessed with many visitors at our house for Christmas caroling. I don't quite know how it got planned", Anne writes.

"I have to guess that it was about 40-50 of our friends from all different groups caroling at our house. It was the kind of caroling that you would see on a Hallmark Christmas special. When I opened the door and saw all of my friends and neighbors, I burst into tears. They held candles--it was truly beautiful."

Other friends stepped up to lend support as well. "Our neighbors hired a company to put Christmas lights on our house. I have always wanted to do this! "Accompanying this gift was a card that read, 'each time you look at the lights, know how much you are cared for.'

"Next, a friend's husband's family that has been following our Caring Bridge site for the past year wanted to do something special for us. They sent us gift certificates to Build-A-Bear workshop so the kids could make bears, pick out outfits and sew a little voice message into the bear with mom's voice. It was so thoughtful."

Anne and her family were still able to come up to Park Rapids over Christmas, despite painful discomfort. "Of all of the places in the world, the cabin is my favorite. For the past year or so, I have tried to leave cancer at home during our visits to the cabin. For the most part it works. This time will be harder because of the pain that I am experiencing, but I will try hard nonetheless. I want to enjoy every second with my family."

Readers interested in offering support to Anne Notch can leave her a note at her Caring Bridge page,

Anne adds, "A friend of mine asked me, 'Do you read all of the messages?' I said, 'Of course I do.' Your messages are what tell me that my cancer has made a difference in someone's life. These messages will help my children get a sense of who their mother was. These messages will let my children know that I fought hard for them and that they were loved deeply. The messages will tell them that I was courageous and brave during a time of great pain. These messages are so important to our family. Caring Bridge allows you to make a book from your site, which we will do for each of the kids. So, please keep the messages coming."