Facing the fight together

MUKILTEO — Troylyn Goldsberry was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma this winter when she felt lumps on the neck of her golden retriever, Sadie.

They felt like the ones on her own body.

A veterinarian confirmed what Troylyn already knew — Sadie had lymphoma.

“It made me so mad. I wanted to get back at cancer,” she said.

Troylyn decided to train for the Big Climb, a fundraiser where participants race or climb 69 flights of stairs at Seattle’ Columbia Tower to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She was doing this in between her own chemo treatments, to the amazement of her husband, Ken, their family and friends.

Troylyn was among 6,000 people who climbed the Columbia Tower last Sunday.

She got to the top and raised more than $7,600, placing fourth in the list of individual fundraisers. She has a competitive streak and is working to raise more money by the April 8 deadline.

“I was just thinking: ‘I’m going to climb this, and I’m not going to stop until I get to the top.’ And that’s what I did,” she said.

Troylyn’s biggest fans, Ken and Sadie, were there to support her.

Sadie came into their lives more than 12 years ago, about two months after Troylyn and Ken started dating. They went together to pick out a puppy.

“I was jealous of her at first,” Troylyn said. “We are very close.”

Sadie has made a habit of following Troylyn’s every move. She’s too tired for that now. Troylyn and Ken think Sadie doesn’t have much longer than a few days. The dog’s breathing was heavy earlier this week as she stretched out on the kitchen floor of the Goldsberrys’ Mukilteo home.

They are focusing on keeping Sadie comfortable and happy. The medication Sadie is taking makes her hungry, so she is enjoying her favorite treats: carrots, lettuce and spinach.

Over Presidents Day weekend, the Goldsberrys visited Sadie’s favorite place, Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. They played on the beach at low tide, and they said Sadie had a blast sniffing at rocks and wading in tide pools.

Chemo didn’t work for Sadie the way it worked for Troylyn.

Every other week, Troylyn goes to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where doctors pump powerful drugs into her body through a “port” inserted under the skin of her chest. Recent tests showed that Troylyn’s body was free of cancer, and doctors say she has a very good chance to beat the disease for good.

The drugs usually kick in later that day, making Troylyn tired and nauseated. Still, she tries to walk every day; doctors told her that physical activity will help her feel better. The climb weekend was her “good weekend” with no treatments.

Going for treatments is painful in more than one way.

“Seeing all these children with leukemia, it’s just heartbreaking,” Troylyn said.

She was diagnosed with lymphoma just before Thanksgiving. It started as a nagging cough that wouldn’t go away. Troylyn, who never gets sick, couldn’t believe she was stricken with cancer. The couple canceled the trip to Hawaii where they had planned to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Ken has worked hard to support Troylyn through her illness. He lost both parents to cancer. He was going to fight for his wife.

“I know there is a greater purpose in my sickness,” Troylyn said. “Because of cancer, I have come out of my box and shared my story, hoping to educate and to let people know it’s OK to talk about cancer.”

She plans to round up relatives and friends to climb the Columbia Tower again next year. She’ll be thinking about Sadie.

You can help

Help Troylyn Goldsberry raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To learn more about Troylyn or make a donation, go to bit.ly/Troylyn.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com

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