Archive for category salisbury township

Feds bust alleged cocaine ring that ran from Puerto Rico to Allentown

Seven men were arrested in Lehigh County, and one was arrested in Puerto Rico, prosecutors said.

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Eight men were arrested Friday morning for alleg…

Salisbury, Southern Lehigh prom 2017 (PHOTOS)

Salisbury High School and Southern Lehigh High School held proms at Steelstacks on Saturday.

Salisbury High School and Southern Lehigh High School held separate proms at the…

Key link to Allentown is closed as crash takes out poles

The incident happened just after midnight, authorities say.

Route 145 was shut for hours at Rock Road after a crash early Thursday morning near the Allentown-Salisbury Township b…

Local runner celebrates transplant anniversary with half marathon

Cortney Lakis, 32, of Salisbury Township, is running the St. Luke’s Half Marathon Sunday.

Six years ago, Cortney Lakis underwent a procedure that could have either saved her life or killed her. 

Now 32-years-old and very much alive, the Salisbury Township resident marks the anniversary of her stem cell transplant in a special way.

There have been parties, trips and even a tattoo of hope ribbons representing the cancers she fought.

But this year Lakis wanted to do something to push herself mentally and physically towards a healthier lifestyle. Something that forced her to push aside the “I had cancer excuse,” when things got too hard, she said.

So, in January she signed up for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon along with three of her girlfriends. Sunday she’s tackling her first 13.1 mile race with them by her side.

She’s often wondered if she’s crazy to try this as she’s trained for the race. Chemotherapy has taken a toll on her body.

“My body sometimes feels like it is 80 instead of 32,” Lakis said.

She worries she won’t finish before the three hour course limit. But Lakis is also really excited and already talking about her next race. 

The training has forced Lakis to face head-on the ways cancer changed her life, her body and even her mind. She’s learned how much of long distance running is a mental game.

The diagnosis

Lakis’ cancer was misdiagnosed for more than a year. Doctors attributed her persistent cough and itching to allergies, then asthma and then eczema.

The lumps in her neck too were dismissed until her gynecologist felt them during her annual checkup and told her to see another doctor.

“The second he put his hands on my throat he said, ‘I am going to schedule you for a CT-scan,'” Lakis recalled.

It was shocking to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25, when one still feels rather invincible, Lakis said.  

But everyone told her that if she had to have cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was the one to have. There’s a successful six-month treatment protocol that’s not as grueling as others and five-year survival rates can be as high as 95 percent.

So, Lakis kept a positive attitude throughout treatment, hoping to get chemo and finish her student teaching.

“Let’s get through this and get the six months over with,” Lakis recalled thinking.

After six month, Lakis got a clean bill of health. But within a month she knew something wasn’t right.

She was bartending at the Brew Works on the Green at the time and every time she took a sip of alcohol she felt a terrible, searing pain in her back, which is lymphoma symptom.

Three day before Christmas 2010, Lakis learned that her cancer had returned and the outlook was no longer so good.

“Apparently, Hodgkins is the best cancer to have unless it comes back,” she said.

Doctors came up with an aggressive treatment plan that consisted of two rounds of in-patient chemotherapy, which would each last a week with a month recovery in between. Then Lakis would undergo a stem cell transplant.

Higher doses of chemo, which may be needed to kill the cancer, come with their own risks. The drugs severely damage bone marrow, where the body makes new blood cells.

Stem cell transplants allow doctors to use more aggressive chemotherapy dosages, because afterwards chemo patients receive a transplant of blood-forming stem cells to replenish the bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society.

After finishing the chemo before her transplant, Lakis was given some time to recuperate and underwent a scan that showed her to be in remission. But she still needed to complete the stem cell transplant.

“Once Hodgkins comes back, it has a nasty habit of coming back again,” she said.

In March of 2011, she checked in to the hospital for doses of chemo that completely wiped out her immune system in preparation for the transplant.

“If anyone got me sick I probably would’ve died because I had absolutely no immune system at all,” Lakis said. “It even wiped out my antibodies from my childhood immunizations.”

The re-birthday

Lakis underwent her transplant on April 14.

“In the transplant community, we call it your re-birthday,” she said. “I told myself, every year I am going to do something on that day.”

Before her diagnosis, Lakis was trying to make running a habit. Her recovery and road to becoming a long-distance runner has been both a physical and mental struggle.

Chemo does a number on your joints, it can weaken your heart and scar your lungs, Lakis said. It’s left her unable to have children as well.

“I’d get started and then I’d quit because this is too hard. My heart would beat so fast I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack,” she said. “I was always asking, ‘Is this normal or is this a cancer side effect?'”

Lakis recently underwent a battery of testing when her hormone levels were off and was told she was medically cleared for any physical activity.

After five years of wondering what chemotherapy had done to her body, Lakis is committed to getting in shape and sticking with it.

“A healthier lifestyle can only help to keep those side effects at bay,” she said.

Cancer did bring one good thing into Lakis’ life. She stopped substitute teaching when she relapsed because the treatment was too draining. 

When she was healthy again, teaching didn’t hold the same draw. Lakis found a job with Via of the Lehigh Valley, managing a grant-funded program that gives disabled high school students paid work experience.

It encompasses all of the things she loved about teaching and none of the things she disliked.

“I really found my niche because cancer changed my mind a bit,” Lakis, who is about to celebrate five years with Via, said.

She is already planning to run Via’s half-marathon in September.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Have you seen this man? Police say he’s missing

The 29-year-old from Salisbury Township was last seen three days before police described him as missing.

Salisbury Township police said Monday they are looking for informati…

Man flashes gun at Taco Bell to get last paycheck, cops say

The man was wanted on a warrant for the March 15 incident, and was arrested Monday in Allentown, police said.

An Allentown man allegedly flashed a gun as he asked for his la…

After a massive stroke, 45-year-old mom makes 5K debut

Lower Saucon resident Ellen Link isn’t letting a stroke hold her back. She’s running in the West End St. Patrick’s Day 5K.

Ellen Link has no trouble recalling the complexities of metallurgical engineering but sometimes she struggles to remember her own birthdate. 

Ellen LinkEllen Link, shown with her husband Jason Link, is recovering from a massive stroke and running in a 5K this weekend.Contributed photo 

It’s one of the great ironies of the 45-year-old Lower Saucon Township resident’s recovery from her massive stroke on Oct. 29, 2015. 

But Link doesn’t focus on the negatives in life. She is so very grateful to be healthy and alive. 

On Sunday, she’ll continue her path to recovery by running her first race in the Lehigh Valley since the stroke, competing in the West End St. Patrick’s Day 5K in Allentown.

She plans to run every step, something she could’t do before her stroke. 

“I am much more fit than even before,” Link said. “I got out of the hospital Tuesday and I was back on the treadmill walking that Sunday.”

Shortly before her stroke, Link was lifting weights at her gym when she felt some numbness in her face. She got checked out by the trainer, who was also a volunteer firefighter and didn’t find anything wrong.

Link drank some water and continued with her workout, clueless to the fact that she’d just torn her left carotid artery, through which blood flows up to that side of her brain, in her neck.

“I slept great that night and when I woke up in the morning I felt fine,” she said.

A few days later on Oct. 29,  Link was in the break room at her company Intertek, which is on the Air Products campus, when her leg went numb.

Too young for a stroke

Confused by what was happening, Link decided to walk back to her office but found she couldn’t. As a co-worker asked her if she was OK, Link discovered she couldn’t speak. The Air Products medical team was called as they waited for an ambulance.

“I heard them talking to me but I couldn’t respond to anybody,” Link said.

The physically fit 45-year-old was undergoing a massive stroke after a blood clot had formed and traveled to her brain, robbing it of blood. But a stroke wasn’t on Link’s mind. She thought she was too young. She didn’t know the symptoms.

That’s not surprising, according to her doctor. 

“She’s very young to have a stroke,” said Dr. Neil V. Patel, the Lehigh Valley Health Network neurointerventional radiologist who treated Link. “She’s a pretty active lady and quite healthy.” 

It turns out Link’s artery walls are weak, likely a quirk of genetics, and susceptible to damage, he said.  The tear signaled to her blood that it should clot. That won’t happen to most physically active people in their 40s.

Link remembers the ambulance ride to Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Salisbury Township campus and then her mind goes blank for days.

By the time Patel encountered Link at the hospital, she was experiencing paralysis on the right side of her body and she was aphasic.

Scans quickly confirmed Link was undergoing a stroke. Part of her brain was no longer functioning because it was cut off from air. But it looked like there was still time to reverse the damage, Patel said.

The stroke could’ve have killed Link or left her with devastating disabilities, unable to speak or move one side of body. Patel was determined to not let that happen, he said.

A complex operation

Once Patel began operating, he discovered how complex a task it was going to be to repair the mother-of-two’s artery and remove the clot.

“I had to do things for her to fix her that I have never done before and I may never do again. It was definitely one of the most challenging cases I’ve done ever,” Patel said. “Part of the reason we stuck with it is that she is a young lady with a lot of life to live.”

It took him almost three hours to thread a catheter through her brain and deliver medicine to dissolve the clot. Next, he placed two stents in her carotid artery to open it and restore circulation.

“Given how long it took we were concerned we might have been too late,” Patel said. “She didn’t wake up right away.”

It took two days for Link to awake in the neuro-intensive care unit. To her husband Jason’s relief, she recognized him immediately. But she could not speak. She understood what was being said, her left brain was just struggling to connect her thoughts and speech.

“It was touch-and-go there for a day,” Patel said. “I walked into her room two days later and she is sitting up reading a book. The last time I’d seen her she had a breathing tube. It was mind blowing.”

In the year and almost five months since the stroke, Link has dedicated herself to her occupational and speech therapy. She’s learned how to speak and write again, although simple words and dates can be a struggle still. But overall she feels close to normal.

“I am highly motivated and my family is depending on me,” Link said. “My family and friends, they inspire me.”

Back from the brink

Her progress allowed her to return to her job as a senior failure analyst, which means she again spends her time trying to sort out why metals and plastics fail.

When Patel first heard Link was walk/running her first 5K after the stroke, he was stunned.

“It felt great but I was floored,” Patel said of seeing her in his office back to normal. “It is a testament to how dedicated she was to her rehabilitation.”

It also speaks to the importance of quick and skilled treatment for those undergoing a stroke, he said.

Now, he’s not surprised Link has progressed to being able to run an entire 5K.

Link does still have some deficits from the stroke. There’s lingering numbness on her right side that makes it difficult to write or wash dishes since she can’t feel them. (Not that she’s complaining about not being able to wash dishes.)

“It’s pins and needles all the time,” Link said. “If that’s what I have to live with the rest of my life, I’m happy I’m breathing in the morning.”

Thanks to physical therapy she is starting to regain some sensation in her hand.

The stroke has truly made Link appreciate the small things in life and she doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

“I am much more light-hearted,” she said.


HOW TO SPOT A STROKE

If you experience weakness of an arm or leg, a sudden inability to speak or slurred speech, facial numbness or paralysis, get to an emergency room immediately.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Pair accused of BB gun vandalism spree now facing trial

Police said three teens are responsible for more than 200 incidents where either car windows or house windows were shot out by BB/pellet guns.

Two teens accused of hundreds …

19-year-old fatally hit by train in Salisbury Township

The circumstances around the Emmaus man’s death are under investigation.

A 19-year-old Emmaus man died early Saturday after he was struck by a train, according to the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office.

Gage J. Horn, of the 600 block of Chestnut Street, was hit about 1:50 a.m. on the tracks near the 3300 block of Berger Street in Salisbury Township, the coroner said in a news release. About an hour later, he was pronounced dead from multiple traumatic injuries.

The circumstances around Horn’s death are under investigation with township police and Norfolk Southern Corp., the coroner said.

Friends on Saturday were mourning Horn on social media:

Steve Novak may be reached at snovak@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

 

Heroin Q&A set for Salisbury High School

The forum for parents and students is slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Salisbury High School, 500 E. Montgomery St.

A local official announced a fourth town hall meeting on the area’…