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Tracy Frank, Published January 29 2013

HerVoice: Fargo woman maintains positive attitude through multiple challenges

Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at tfrank@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – Lori Laducer has experienced a lot of unique challenges in her life.

She has undergone three organ transplants, survived a rare and deadly infection, is raising a child with special needs, lost her home, and her husband is suffering from a serious skin condition.

Despite it all, she maintains a positive attitude filled with faith and hope.

“You have to believe in the best when you’ve been through some of the stuff that I have,” she said.

When Laducer was 11 years old, she found out she had juvenile diabetes.

She had to be tested frequently at her doctor’s office because blood sugar testing machines weren’t as accurate, convenient or available as they are now, she said. She couldn’t eat any sugar or high-fat foods. She had to snack throughout the day, but if her friends asked for it, she would share, and then her blood sugar would go down.

She gained weight because of her diabetes, but just wanted to be like everyone else. She quickly learned that if she played around with her insulin she would lose the weight, she said.

“It’s what they call diabetic bulimia nowadays,” Laducer said. “I played that roller coaster game for quite a while until I was a senior in high school.”

It turned out to be a very dangerous game. Because her blood sugar was excessively high, she developed a rare condition called rhinocerebral mucormycosis, she said.

It’s a deadly infection of the sinuses, nasal passages, oral cavity and brain caused by saprophytic fungi, according to Medscape from WebMD. It commonly affects people with diabetes and those in immunocompromised states.

Laducer was in the hospital for three and a half months and went through 21 surgeries on her face, nose and throat. The medication she needed to treat the infection and save her life ended up damaging her kidneys, Laducer said.

The two pregnancies she later went through damaged them further, she said.

Laducer’s first transplant surgery was in August of 2000. She had one kidney and her pancreas replaced.

She had to have another kidney transplant surgery on her 41st birthday in May 2011.

While it might not seem like the best way to spend a birthday, for Laducer it was an incredible, life-saving gift she had been waiting five years to receive, she said.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “You’re happy, but yet you’re sad because another person has to pass away for you to live. My thought is I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the gift of life that they’ve given me.”

Her 17-year-old son, Trenton, has had his own series of health challenges. He had a stroke when he was born. Because of that, he has fine motor, gross motor and speech problems, she said. He has seizures and problems with his eyes that prevent him from seeing well.

He also has microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which a person’s head is smaller than it should be. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues, and there’s generally no treatment for the condition, according to Mayo Clinic.

But Trenton also is a ham of a boy who adores his little niece, said Laducer, who also has a 23-year-old daughter and a 13-month old granddaughter.

Laducer said it was stressful when her son was an infant and she found out how many challenges he would face. But because of everything she’d been through, she’d learned to go with the flow, she said.

“You have to take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and always believe in the best,” she said.

As if Laducer’s family didn’t have enough on their plates, Laducer’s husband has also been going through health complications.

He was in the Gulf War in the early 1990s. After he returned home, he started occasionally breaking out in hives. Over the years, his skin has become more sensitive and now breaks out in sores. Doctors haven’t been able to tell him what’s wrong, Laducer said.

Because of all of their healthcare costs, they had to file bankruptcy and lost their home in 2010, Laducer said.

She also lost her job after taking extended medical leave during her last transplant, she said. She now works as a substitute teacher.

“I have a very strong reserve,” she said. “I just handle it. It’s always kind of been my role in life to be the strong one.”

Part of her strength comes from a strong belief in God, she said.

“I’ve always been told and always believed that God put us here for a reason,” she said. “And each thing is a test of faith, a test of time, a test of our strength.”

Laducer said she also has wonderful friends who are her best supporters.

One of her friends set up a fund for her family to help them through this time. Donations can be given to the Laducer Family Fund through Bank of the West.