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Larned mom overcomes cancer, starts new chapter
It was a God thing, really
pawnee thomson
Larneds Linda Thomson works at the Life Center Clinic in Larned Tuesdays through Fridays. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Special to the Tribune
LARNED — Attending college was the furthest idea from Linda Thomson’s mind in December 2007.
The Larned resident had undergone surgery for breast cancer and she was preparing for a long road of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
However, a friend and fellow cancer survivor knew it was the perfect time for Thomson to create a new mission in life.
Holly Thorne encouraged her friend to enter Barton Community College’s medical Assistant program along with her. Together, they pursued the 68 credit hours of coursework and completed associate degrees in May of 2010.
That action turned the tide for Thomson, who has served for many years as a foster parent, while also operating a car wash and a laundromat. Today, Thomson’s cancer is in remission and she is enjoying her additional role as a medical assistant, working part time for the Life Center Clinic, Larned.  
“Holly knew what it meant to go through all of the treatments,” said Thomson. “My first thought when she suggested I go back to school was, ‘That’s ridiculous, I can’t do that.’ But after thinking about it more, I would give it a try. I was in class on Monday.”
As a full-time student at Barton, she continued caring for four teenage foster children as well as serving as guardian of another child. She also continued operating the car wash and Laundromat she and her husband, Glen, purchased in 1977. She has run the business alone since his death in 2003.
With the beginning of college came cancer treatments – first chemo therapy in February 2008, then radiation through June of that year.
Most of the courses required for the 68-credit-hour degree were offered on-line by Barton. Thomson said it’s the only way she could
accomplish the degree with her busy schedule. It was necessary for her to attend Barton’s campus for some courses and labs. Thomson admits there were times that Thorne had to help her to class when she was feeling ill following a treatment. But that added to her determination to complete the degree, she added.  
Sick and exhausted one night, her classmates wheeled her around to her classrooms in an office chair. When her hair began falling out because of cancer treatments she celebrated bandana night with her classmates and instructor by supplying everyone with bandanas to wear.
“My educational pursuit helped me get through the cancer,” said Thomson. “I had something to look forward to. My classmates and instructors were so supportive and considerate of my needs. I was on campus around them during the worst of the chemo, and that’s when I needed supportive people the most.”
When the time came for Thomson to fulfill her internship obligation last year, she inquired to program coordinator Carol Crockett about the possibility of serving at the Life Center Clinic. The clinic had never participated in the internship program, but nurse practitioner Sheila Toon agreed to an internship arrangement. Thomson had been a patient at the Life Center Clinic a few times and liked the atmosphere of the clinic. At the start of her internship, she said the clinic didn’t need a medical assistant and she wasn’t looking for an additional job anyway.
“Linda is an exceptional student,” Crockett said. “Her presence, participation, class preparedness and determination to complete courses served as a model for others.”
According to Thomson’s account, it was a match made in heaven.
“It was a God thing, really,” said Thomson. “(Shelia) needed somebody and didn’t know it. I was the person who fit in here and I didn’t know it. I think He just brought us together.”
After graduating with an associate degree from Barton last year, Thomson is continuing her academic career as a full-time on-line student majoring in psychology at Barclay College. She plans to graduate next spring.
“I don’t know what the plan is from there,” explained Thomson. “We’ll see when the time comes.”
Meanwhile, Thomson is content serving as a part-time medical assistant, while continuing her role as a foster mother and a small business owner. It’s a combination she plans to continue for awhile.
“I started the journey into this field just to keep my mind off of the cancer and to stay busy,” said Thomson. “It is a job that I wouldn’t give up for anything now.”
Besides a 12-year-old boy, of whom she has guardianship, and two foster children, Thomson has her son Gary, his wife Rebecca, 
and three grandsons living with her. They returned from a seven-year missionary trip in Japan in September.
“That has made me the happiest grandma in the world,” Thomson said.