“Karien Bennett is a Neighbor of Mine”
By Lynne Harpst Koen
Karien Bennett is a neighbor of mine. When we lived at 721 “J”, she was the ONLY neighbor who was ever nice to me! She would always smile and wave. I don’t know her personally, but I always felt a certain unexplainable connection to her. I’d get such a warm feeling in my heart as I watched her walk her little boy to school in the mornings.
Today, God showed me our connection. Loud and clear! I wept as I read the Coronado story of Karien’s daughter, Lecinda, who has a cancerous brain tumor. Clearly, I had to help my neighbors. I met with Karein and Lecinda this morning. Lovely ladies, both! Lecinda is a young, vital, and gorgeous young lady. Her grace shone through the minute I met her. She has an incredible magnetic energy! Her attitude towards her plight is as positive as one can possibly be under the circumstances.
The Bennett’s really need our help. Lecinda is facing major surgery and already her insurance coverage is running thin. Any donation is more than welcome. There’s no such thing as “too little.” I know times are tight, so if you’re unable to donate money, please donate prayers! The power of prayer is immense, and also tax-deductible (by God). Let’s all get on board as a community to help Karien and Lecinda through this darkest of times. They need a miracle. It’s all possible with love and faith!
For updates on how Lecinda is doing and for a place where you can post a comment or memory of a good time with Lecinda for her and others to read, please visit: www.caringbridge.org/visit/lecindabennett
Please note that there is a donation link on this site, but this is not a donation for Lecinda. It is for the use of Caring Bridge. In order to directly make donations to Lecinda Bennett, a Pay Pal account has been set up. The Pay Pal account is under this e-mail address: email@example.com
Any other direct correspondence (donations, cards, letters, etc.) can be sent to:
754 “J” Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118
By Elloise Bennett
Those of you who know Lecinda would be quick to describe her as a selfless, giving, and loving woman. She is the type of person who will surprise you with a bouquet of flowers on a special occasion, bring you chicken soup when you are sick, and give you directions when you are lost. She is admired for her upbeat, vibrant personality, and the kindness she shares with everyone in her life. She loves life…and is not afraid to live her dreams. Now Lecinda faces her own challenge.
Lecinda fell ill after a seizure on July 15th of this year and was diagnosed with an “egg-sized” brain tumor in her left temporal lobe called a glioma.
Unforeseen obstacles may face us in life, yet we can certainly learn how to handle them with grace and courage, as evidenced by Lecinda’s example, and response to this challenge. She even had the hospital staff talking about her upbeat attitude and humorous strength. And her smile, her laughter, and her joy for life are as strong as ever.
Like others that have been struck by the current economy, Lecinda has not had full coverage health insurance since she left her job at Ralph Lauren. Although we are waiting to figure out what the future will hold, the costs have already been overwhelming.
Publisher’s Note: So far Coronado and the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation through a series of donations and fundraisers have gone above and beyond in assistance for Lecinda and her medical care needs. The continued support of our community will be greatly appreciated as the Bennett family struggle to ensure Lecinda’s recovery.
“Lecinda Bennett – Woman Warrior”
By Kimberley Graham
Who is Lecinda Bennett? Last week, my husband and I had the great pleasure of spending some time with this vibrant, energized, one-of-a-kind, animated young woman and her mother baring the same traits. To say Lecinda Bennett is a dynamo is not an exaggeration. With her vivid storytelling and sharing of her plight, we became instantaneously bonded to her, her family, and their causes. In the brief hour we spent with these remarkable women, we shared tears as well as lots of laughter. To meet Lecinda, her mother, and the rest of her sweet family was a soul-sticking experience. One, in which, anyone who crosses their paths will be moved by.
To watch our wonderful interview with Lecinda, please visit: www.coronadoclarion.com
“A Little Bit About Me”
By Lecinda Bennet
I’ve lived in different continents and different towns – and all of it was about building communities.
Born in 1980 in South Africa, I grew up in the last phases of Apartheid and had the chance to witness the beginnings of major change in my place of birth. South Africa is a beautiful place, and a great place to originate from – because despite the hiccups in its history, it’s a place that is about roots and family.
When I was nine, my family immigrated to America – actually, to be specific, we immigrated to Coronado… a great place to land as an immigrant. My mom, my step-dad, my sister, and I had to learn how to connect in a new world, in a new culture, and with a new language.
I started working when I was a student at Coronado High School. I worked at Salon David Perez in University Towne Center for 8.5 years as a general manager, and learned that I love the style industry as much as I love business. My exposure in this world helped fuel the dream that I would love to live in New York City.
But New York City needs more than work experience. So I went back to school after a few gap years, and earned a B.S. in paralegal studies. Armed with my diploma, I set out to the Big Apple in December, 2006.
Being an immigrant is intense, being new to New York City is insane! But you learn the ropes, get to meet people, and develop connections. I was lucky enough to land a job at Polo Ralph Lauren Corporate headquarters – and learned all about life in the big city, and in the interim made some amazing friends.
Life in the big city included watching the financial world implode in 2008 – and with it my own life, as I was one of the thousands of folks laid off with the turn of the tide. But bills have to be paid, and costs didn’t drop. Survival skills to the rescue! My people skills, my energy, and connections had helped me to turn around an extremely part-time usher position into a position as the artists’ assistant at the Jazz Center of Lincoln Center and to become a part-time executive assistant for Stewards of Change, a consulting group that focuses on health and human services.
As the artists’ assistant, I’ve had the amazing experiences of standing in hallways watching people like Tony Bennett shake off pre-show stage jitters, watch Liza Minnelli own a room, and I would bake cupcakes for the stagehands who work harder than most people could believe. I worked with Sting so much, he knew me by name. He is absolutely dreamy in real life. I love the energy, the rhythm, the people, and the jazz of the city. It was one of the biggest parts that helped make NYC home.
As the executive assistant for Stewards of Change, I have the opportunity to help local, state, and federal governments find ways to be more inter-operable and to help people, foster children, and those in need find an easier way to work with the system.
Unfortunately, when I was diagnosed with my glioma, I had to give up my challenging and rewarding life in the Big Apple to spend my days with doctors and having tests performed. I was promised that my positions with the Jazz Center of Lincoln Center and Stewards of Change will always be held for me and will be resumed after my recovery and my return to New York City.
“Lecinda’s Caring Bridge Journal”
By Elloise and Lecinda Bennett
Wednesday, August 4, 2010: Lecinda was officially diagnosed with a brain tumor only a couple weeks ago after suffering a seizure in her sleep. She’s been with us in San Diego since just after her seizure so we as a family can be there for her and help her make sense of all this — versus via thousands of miles. She had a biopsy today – which sounds like not such a big deal for any of you out there who have had a biopsy on a lymph node or such, but this was brain surgery. She had to have markers placed on shaved spots on her head, was taken into an OR for a couple hours, had a hole drilled into her scull, and a needle prodded into her brain to extract some tissue.
Of course, she woke up to a groggy world, and immediately said, “I think I have a headache.” Needless to say — even the ICU staff love her!
The biopsy results should be back in a few days. It will help us determine what type of cancer it is and what the course of treatment options are.
She’s one hell of a trooper. She made me laugh so hard! We were chatting somewhere between pain med dosages, and she says, “Sorry, Weza, I tried. I’ve been looking to see if I can find you a doctor as a husband, but I don’t have my contacts in.” Pure Lecinda statement — thinking of others even when she’s strapped in a bed in the ICU!
P.S. She’s never been sick ONE day in her whole life that led to ER or hospital time. As always, Lecinda never does things half way!!!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010: Thank you is just a 9-letter word (yes I counted the spaces), but it means soooo much more than that. I know I spoke about this the other day, but each day I am shown the kindness, generosity, heartfelt amazingness of families, friends, and people around the world!
As you all know, I’m patiently (well, as patiently as I am able to) waiting for my surgery date. This afternoon I was blessed to be given my surgery date! September 28th here I come!!!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support throughout this!
Monday, September 20, 2010: Ever think about how meaningful something as simple as a hug is? Well on Saturday I was just feeling weird, the positively positive was there but I just felt that I needed something extra. So I called one of my best friends and told him I was on my way over because I wanted a hug. (He gives the best hugs!) I was only at his shop for a few minutes, but that hug just helped me find my center again and let my positivity come back through.
Hence the Positively Positive! That’s how we have to look at things right? So far it is definitely working for me! Positivity is one of the best medicines I could have asked for! It makes me realize that there is and will be a tomorrow! While I have been more tired the last week, I have been trying my best to let that positivity overtake the tiredness.
In three days, I leave to go to San Francisco to start two days of Pre-Op and then the surgery! Oh my, but the sooner I start the pre-op, the sooner I get to come back to Coronado! Definite upside I’d say! I’m also finding the amazing positives in this experience from start to midpoint (as I know I’m not at the end of this battle yet). I have reconnected with friends that I might not have seen in years, realized who was truly a fair-weather friend, and who was always by my side no matter what! It has truly been an interesting journey!
Thank you for taking the time to care, share, and pray for me on this weird journey. It is your comments, thoughts, and positive energy that is helping me remember my own positive energy.
Friday, September 24, 2010: Hello from San Francisco! After a slightly delayed start yesterday, flight to San Fran from San Diego was delayed, my sister and I finally made it up here. I’m off to start my first day of Pre-Op. Luckily I don’t have to spend the nights at the hospital during this phase at least.
I’ll do an update on how amazing the community of Coronado and the county of San Diego has been after the pre-op, as there are so many people to thank.
Thanks for all your support, prayers, love, and generally everything you guys do for me.
Saturday, September 25, 2010: It’s incredible the technology that the medical industry have integrated into their world. Lecinda spent yesterday doing a variety of neurological tests in something called an MSI, where they measured response times, response origins, brainwave activity, and more while she’s strapped into some sort of headgear machine. Charts with all kinds of graphs and flickering lights, and video screens with pulsating colored globes inside the shape of a brain — kinda took me back to the days when I had harbored ideas of being a doctor. If I’d known I could be a computer nerd and doctor all in one I would have maybe chosen a different path!
We also did a pre-op appointment for blood tests and information gathering and with folks in anesthesia so Lecinda would have a clear idea of what “awake” will really mean in the middle of her surgery.
Now it’s a beautiful San Francisco day – one of those days where you can actually see the whole San Francisco Bay without any fog! The goal this weekend is for Lecinda to rest, to laugh, and to do the most important thing in preparation for the surgery — become mentally and emotionally ready.
Monday morning will be enough time to get back to waiting rooms and slick tiled floors.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010: It’s 10:45 m West Coast time. Lecinda has been in the OR for just over 3 hours, but they have only been operating for about 2 hours. She may not be done for another 6 to 8 hours.
I think they need to sell sedatives for the families waiting in the waiting room. It FEELS like every minute has 340 seconds in it and it sucks. I will do a post as soon as I know how it went.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010: Lecinda is in the ICU tonight, resting comfortably, after almost 8 hours of surgery. But best of all, that rest is tumor free! They were able to remove the ENTIRE tumor. That does not mean she’s cancer free, but rather that the tumor is gone. We need to have tests done on the tumor itself to determine exactly the next steps. BUT, the fact that they were able to remove all of it greatly reduces the need for chemo, etc. She did very well in the awake parts of the surgery as well — of course. When she first woke it was a little scary. She was clearly not making sense. Each word was understandable, but not how she was putting them together. It was a little freaky – Okay — a lot. But within half an hour, she was settling down some and her “brain” was evening out to being a little more “normal” Lecinda, which included her telling me to not speak for her! She is still showing signs of what they call “word search” and there may be some other hiccups but she’s been able to tell time, repeat phrases, and tell me to update her Facebook. I sat with her, fed her some broth and tea, and watched her sleep. It’s pretty silly how we take deep breaths for granted. The next few days will be important as they watch to confirm the results as well as watch the swelling in her brain. Swelling is standard; in fact, they said I could set my clock on it. For the next 48 hours, her brain will swell and then it will begin to subside. In that time, she could experience dementia and symptoms similar to what we associate with Alzheimer’s — all temporary and due to the swelling. I’ll just standby to see what happens.
Thank you to all who have sent messages of encouragement and love all day long. The 100-degree plus waiting room (San Francisco is having a heat wave and of course the waiting room has no air conditioning since…well, it’s San Francisco, why would you need it!) was a little easier to bear with those messages coming in!
Publisher’s Note: We had a brief visit with Karien this afternoon. Lecinda made it through a very long surgery with few complications. The medical team were able to remove the tumor. Lecinda will suffer some physical disorientation during her recovery from this very intense surgery. Our positive warrior has begun the battle against what she refers to as her “egg”. The egg is now gone and she can start the healing treatment process. We are sure in our hearts that she will be the victor. We send her our prayers. I know along with her close family and friends, our community will pull together and continue to support her through this experience.
Of course…the fact that the Walgreens where I filled her HUGE list of prescriptions was held up at gun point MOMENTS after I walked out tonight…added adventure to the day. Life makes you laugh…