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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 5/30/2013

Area pitches in to help fight cancer

BY BARBARA HENDEL
BLADE SOCIETY EDITOR

National Cancer Survivors Day is Sunday. The Victory Center potluck lunch is at Secor Park and will feature life coach Jenn Wenzke. Outdoor picnic fun includes children's activities, a tie-dye station, egg and water balloon tosses, free raffles, and more, rain or shine. Call The Victory Center 419-531-7600 for reservations.

Each month is dedicated to awareness of various cancers. How did this increased awareness come about? The American Cancer Society, celebrating its centennial year, might have had something to do with that.

The organization was founded as the American Society for Control of Cancer by 15 prominent physicians and business leaders who were members of the New York Harvard Club. The current name was adopted in 1945, and the home office is in Atlanta.

Back then a cancer diagnosis meant near-certain death. It was rarely mentioned in public, let alone disclosed to families and friends. Even in 1991 when I first was diagnosed, the stigma was incredible: One friend cut all ties, and no one wanted to hire me because I was going through treatments. In recent years, things have changed, and people are open about having the disease.

My survival was possible because of medical advances. My grandfather on my mother's side had Hodgkin's lymphoma, and they couldn't do anything for him. Twenty years later my Dad had the same disease, and he survived for 18 more years. I was diagnosed with the same cancer 18 years after that, and in 2008, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

It's not always easy, and treatments are no picnic, but you go on living.

What can you do to help? Donate to cancer-support organizations, and be there for those going through treatments. Flowers and cards are nice, but one friend sent me a soft and cozy blanket, other friends provided dinners, shopped for me, and took me to appointments. Some great neighbors and friends mowed my lawn and cleaned my house. Prayers helped too.

The Victory Center 14th Annual Treasures with a Twist presented by ProMedica Cancer Institute May 17 at Parkway Place raised more than $40,000. Board president Lindsay McKibben was all smiles over the amount raised at the auction, wine, beer and food sampling event.

The local nonprofit organization founded in 1996 for free physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of cancer patients and their family members, is privately funded through donations.

Honored were the 2013 faces of victory: Sherri Nigmigean, ovarian cancer; Robert Grands, Hodgkin's lymphoma; and Rita Hafner, breast cancer.

The 4th Annual Bags, Baubles, and Baskets: A Girls Night Out presented by The American Cancer Society May 2 at Parkway Place in Maumee was a sea of pink and white with candlelight.

Emcee Lissa Guyton of WTVG-TV, Channel 13 and a board member whose father died when she was 9 years old and whose sister died a few years ago, said, "We are here tonight to save lives ... and end the war on cancer."

Josie Langsdorf, who had brain surgery for terminal cancer three weeks before the event, still was smiling as she said "Live everyday -- go skinny dipping!"

Katie Palmer talked about her son Bryson, 4, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was not quite 5 months old. He has been given a stem cell transplant and most recently a lung transplant. She said it is important to "Never give up. Every day is a gift, and someday this may be a miracle."

Event chairman Michelle Giovanoli of University of Toledo Medical Center Radiation Oncology is all smiles over the estimated $25,000 netted.

The Ovarian Cancer Connection Annual Survivor Luncheon was in April at The Premier with comedian Laura Clark Henson, of Madison, Wis., who gave an enlightening journey of her experience with cancer, showing that humor helps.

The OCC mission is to educate the community on the early warning signs and support research. Gini Steinke, the organization's president, said "pay attention to your body" because early detection can save lives.

Started in 2005, the group provides financial assistance such as rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, or prescription drugs, massages, counseling, transportation to medical appointments, and more. Information: 419-866-6622 or ovarianconnection.org.



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