One by one Sandy Kay Fleig told her clients at Definitions of Design Salon and Spa in Maumee that she wouldn’t be taking any appointments for a while.
Then, with her voice lowered and tears forming, she told them why: The 54-year-old longtime beautician and grandmother of three had been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
It was more than shocking to her friends and family. It caused disbelief for many reasons.
First, Sandy Kay showed no signs of illness. She had been her cordial self with a contagious smile and a willingness to talk about other people’s problems.
She and her husband, Ron, had been taking their frequent weekend trips to North Carolina to visit their daughter and family.
And of her six sisters and four brothers, she had always been the healthiest. “Everyone in the family but me had had health issues,” she said. “Until this I never used my health insurance.”
But the diagnosis she shared with clients in October was true. In November she underwent surgery and it was followed by weeks of treatments and tests and the loss of her hair, which seemed especially sad for a hairdresser and for one with long, beautiful hair.
Now that she is back at the salon working part time, she readily reviews the steps that led to the first doctor’s appointment, perhaps as a warning to other women.
“I just didn’t feel good in September,” she said. “I was bloating and had a lot of gas which I never had. When I began to lose weight, I thought, what’s going on here?”
Sandy Kay’s last chemo treatment was April 3 and her family and friends are planning a celebration.
Sandy’s Sunday Matinee May 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. is a fund-raiser to help defray some of the horrendous hospital bills that keep coming in. The event will not be the usual spaghetti supper or fish fry fund-raiser. Instead, Sandy Kay’s sister, Karen Keifer of Toledo, and a large committee of relatives have rented the Maumee Theater. The $10 ticket holders will see the movie Frozen, have refreshments, and can bid on a long list of gifts that have been donated.
When she first heard what her family and co-workers were planning, Sandy Kay and Ron were hesitant to accept it. “We don’t want to be a charity case,” Ron said. Sandy Kay added, “We always have paid our bills when we get them.”
But as the bills continued to pour in, her income was reduced by one third, and she learned how many people wanted to help, Sandy Kay has been overcome with gratitude.
Calphalon, Honey-Baked Ham, the Mud Hens, and Carruth products are among the gifts that are expected to be donated. Definitions owners Peggy George and C.C. Forche will donate beauty products and Sandy Kay’s co-workers, who delivered meals to the Fleig home during her recuperation, will donate crafts for the sale.
The Perrysburg Township Fire Department paid for the theater rental. Daughter Melissa Holland didn’t let living far away in Mebane, N.C., deter her from adding to the sale items. She enlisted the help of North Carolina University for several autographed sports memorabilia and T-shirts.
Veronica Fleig, Sandy Kay’s daughter, who is a sales representative for It Works Global in Toledo, will donate the company’s body wrap and herbal products.
“It’s overwhelming,” Sandy Kay said. “People who don’t even know me want to help out with a blink of an eye.” Sandy Kay’s parents are Ralph and Barbara Hohlbein of Toledo.
The support in the Knocking Out Ovarian Cancer challenge began long before the fund-raiser was planned. Because they knew Sandy Kay would lose her hair from the treatments, her husband and four brothers and her daughter Melissa shaved their heads. Her daughter Veronica didn’t shave her head, but donated the hair from a very short haircut to Locks of Love. The six sisters also show signs of their support to Sandy Kay with teal blue streaks in their hair. On a girls’ night out, Elaine Hollowell of Swanton, a sister who is also a hairdresser, arrived with teal blue hair coloring that she applied to everyone. Teal is the ovarian cancer awareness color.
Tickets are $10 at the door and in advance from Definitions of Design, 467 W. Dussel Dr., and from Karen Keifer, 419-320-2060.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org