SHERBURN - Vicki Rosenberg has always been one of the first ones to reach out a helping hand, specifically as a patient advocate for others fighting cancer. Now her own battle with ovarian cancer is drawing to an end.
"Three weeks ago, she discontinued all treatment," said Rosenberg's sister, Linda Sandberg. "She's fought a heck of a battle and has been an inspiration to us all."
This is Rosenberg's sixth battle with the disease since 2004. This time, she suffered more complications that included several hospitalizations since January.
Sandberg and her sister, Gala Beckendorf, have been helping the family with hospice care for Rosenberg. But community members and friends also want one more opportunity to help a woman who has helped so many.
"Everyone wants to help out because of the person Vicki is and the impact she has had on so many," Sandberg said. "Stephanie Tumbleson set up a meal train to bring meals to her husband, and they come three times a week. Bailey Scott has come and given her massages and Heidi, (Bailey's) mother, is coming today to give her a massage. When I called Heidi, she said, 'Oh thank you. I have been hoping you would call.' She was thanking me for giving her the opportunity to help Vicki ... People are just so giving and caring, but again, I believe it is mainly because of the giving, caring person that Vicki has been to them."
And yet, Rosenberg has not let go of her caregiving instinct. Sadly, another cancer fighter, Annie Liebfried, 30, of Sherburn, is losing her battle. She is in hospice care in Jackson.
"Vicki wanted to go see and talk with her, but just wasn't sure what to say," Sandberg said. "Vicki is so weak and was having a hard time trying to figure out something to say to her because she has always tried to help lift Annie up ... She is worried that Annie is afraid, understandably, about the road ahead."
But again, Rosenberg found a way to help with a special blanket.
"Vicki had some special fleece fabric that our mom, Mary, made into a blanket recently," Sandberg said. "This fleece was special to Vicki because she had envisioned herself floating up to heaven on bright colors such as were in this fleece. So, Vicki decided that she should give Annie this blanket to help Annie make her trip to heaven. Doug (Vicki's husband) suggested that we cut the blanket in half so that they could both have half to remind themselves that they have each other to help them on their trip to heaven, and when they next met, they could join their halves. Vicki loved the idea, so we cut the blanket in half and Vicki delivered it to Annie one and a half hours later. Hopefully, they both now have comfort that they can be wrapped in each other's love as they travel to their heavenly home."
Rosenberg has had several gifts brought to her, as well. After last week's homecoming game, the Martin County West football team (including her nephew, Hunter Olson) brought over the winning game ball signed by the entire team and coaches after the game.
"She had the biggest smile," Sandberg said. "Vicki has only made it to one game this season and had hoped to come and watch [Hunter] at the homecoming game. However, she was not feeling well enough to attend. Receiving the signed football made her feel part of the game."
Many stories of Rosenberg's contributions, from her caregiving and advocating for cancer fighters, to her coaching of little league football and track, are all being remembered.
"She got involved and it made a difference," Sandberg said. "At her benefit (in May) there were over 1,300 people there. I'd never seen a benefit so big."
Rosenberg was able to accomplish one of her life goals last month by walking her son down the aisle at his wedding.
"Her goals were to walk her sons down the aisle and hold her grandbabies," Sandberg said. "We weren't sure she was going to make it that time, but she was released at 5:30 p.m. the evening before to make it to the rehearsal ... When she walked down the aisle with and when she had the mother/son dance, there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd ... We are so thankful that she was able to at least walk one of her sons down the aisle."
"There is always someone who has it worse," Rosenberg said during an interview in May. "And with so much negative, we need to share the positive ... How simple is it to give someone a smile, a compliment, and just taking a moment to listen, really listen. I feel that if through all of this I can help reach just one person, make that struggle a little easier for them, then it's all worth it."
Messages for Rosenberg can be left on her care page at: