$11K cow renews hope for Mississippi woman battling aggressive brain cancer

Tina Ladner underwent six weeks of intensive radiation and chemotherapy before continuing chemo...
Tina Ladner underwent six weeks of intensive radiation and chemotherapy before continuing chemo and other treatments for stage 4 brain cancer.(Stephen Ladner)
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 2:48 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Stephen and Tina Ladner never thought they’d spend their 32nd wedding anniversary in the hospital or that a cow would bring hope in the middle of a life-or-death battle against an aggressive form of brain cancer.

In February 2023, Tina went into the hospital to have a non-cancerous pancreatic cyst removed. Stephen said she was relieved to have the procedure done finally, and the family thought the recovery would be routine. However, he noticed Tina wasn’t acting like herself the day after the surgery.

An MRI soon revealed a tumor the size of a small lemon on the left side of her brain that was partially inoperable.

“They removed as much of it as they could, but it had fingers that went into the brain,” said Stephen. “The doctor couldn’t get all of it.”

Stephen and Tina Ladner celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary at the hospital after Tina...
Stephen and Tina Ladner celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary at the hospital after Tina was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme.(Stephen Ladner)

Doctors diagnosed Tina with stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). According to the American Brain Tumor Association, GBM is the most common form of brain cancer in adults. It is highly aggressive and deadly, with a five-year survival rate of only 5.6% for those over 40.

Stephen said Tina, who is 50, is fighting hard to beat the odds.

“We have one grandbaby who’s nine,” Stephen said. “That’s (Tina’s) heart. That’s the reason she’s fighting, and she’s fighting (cancer) hard. She’s tough.”

Following surgery, Tina began six weeks of intensive radiation and chemotherapy and then continued chemo five days a month.

Stephen said they believe the treatment has had some success because scans on Aug. 25 showed the tumor had stopped growing.

While the couple is excited to see some progress, they said they are also facing a mountain of debt for the costly medical treatments. Their friends and family have stepped up to help ease the Ladner’s financial burden, but it was a recent cattle auction that brought a surprising wave of hope.

Stephen, a regular cattleman, donated one of his heifers to Southeast Mississippi Livestock in hopes of raising healthcare funds for Tina.

Interview on cattle sale fundraiser for Tina Ladner.

The stockyard promoted the fundraiser to be part of their Labor Day auction. They ended up selling the cow for $10,700 and raised around $1,000 more through personal donations for a total of $11,400.

“The cow people, or cattle people, and just people in the ag (community) altogether are probably the greatest folks in the world,” said Mike Keene, manager of Southeast Mississippi Livestock. “We are very proud to be able to host something like this. We are very proud of our clientele, our customers, and their compassion for their fellow man.”

In addition to the money, Stephen said many people told him they were praying for Tina and him.

“I believe in the power of prayer,” Stephen said. “That has been getting us through. God has been with us.”

However, celebrations were cut short when Tina had a seizure the day after the auction that left her paralyzed on her left side. Stephen said it was a reminder that the fight wasn’t over.

“Like our auctioneer said, the family probably needs our prayers more than they need our money,” Keene said. “They do need some financial help, but they certainly need your prayers.”

To help the Ladners with ongoing healthcare expenses, you can give to the Tina Ladner Benefit Fund at any Hancock-Whitney Bank.

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