On Thursday, October 13, guests joined us for our 7th Annual Tribute Dinner at the Marquis Ballroom at the Fort Wayne Marriott. This year’s event, “Navigating Life’s Detours”, offered our community an opportunity to pause, treasure the memories of people who have been touched by cancer, and pay tribute to them, whether a cancer survivor, caregiver, physician, or lost loved one. In addition to quality time spent with family and friends, guests were entertained and inspired by guest speaker Regina Brett, best-selling author and cancer survivor. Regina shared the story of her own cancer journey through her 50 Life Lessons, which appear in her book “God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Details.” She made us laugh and she made us cry, but mostly she instilled in us the hope that the best is yet to come, no matter where we are on life’s journey.
Last year, we unveiled the William A. Kunkel III Champion of Hope award, which was created to recognize an individual, family or business that embodies the mission of Cancer Services through a lifelong commitment to enhancing the quality of life of those affected by cancer in Northeast Indiana. The recipient of the Champion of Hope Award demonstrates an unparalleled devotion to the organization as a volunteer, advocate, friend and companion, leading by example and exhibiting unwavering compassion. Last year’s award went to its namesake, Bill Kunkel.
We were pleased to announce the selection of Jim and Adda Jane Wiegman as the recipients of this year’s Champion of Hope award and we honored them at the dinner. Jim and Adda Jane have made significant contributions to our community as volunteers and co‐founders of the US TOO support group for men with prostate cancer and their partners. Since its debut in 1992, US TOO has held more than 200 monthly meetings providing men and their partners a safe place to talk about their health and well‐being. Jim and Adda Jane have dedicated much of their time to US TOO, and in return they have become a source of comfort and information for hundreds of men and women throughout our community. Jim and Adda Jane served many years as volunteers with the Scotts/Kroger Cancer Day, bagging groceries and helping at the golf outing. They have given financial support to Cancer Services and been a foundation for inspiration to staff and volunteers alike, always offering their help. These two Champions of Hope have had positive impacts on the quality of life of so many friends and neighbors through their very own message of hope.
Continuing our life lessons series as we gear up for the Tribute Dinner on October 13, board member Jeff Hamilton shares his reaction to “miracles are everywhere.”
“I believe we can be that miracle waiting to happen. You never know when a small gesture, a kind smile, or a helping hand will be the miracle to someone in need. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes, they happen all around us, and they are often unseen as we plow through our daily to-do list. So“get outside everyday not only to see the miracles, but who knows, on any given day, you may be the miracle to someone.” ~Jeff Hamilton, board member
This morning, program director Gail Hamm shares her thoughts on Regina Brett’s Life Lesson #41: If we threw all of our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
Don’t forget, Regina will be the guest speaker at the Annual Tribute Dinner on Thursday, October 13. You can purchase tickets online HERE, at our office during normal office hours, or by mail. Give Amber a call at 484-9560 for more information.
“Too often, as we bemoan our life, we look around and it seems as though the lives of others are so much easier…that they haven’t a care in the world. But the truth is, we do a pretty good job hiding our real selves from others. Just because we don’t share the truth about soured relationships, mental health concerns, financial worries, health fears, children’s issues, and other anxieties, does not mean that they don’t exist. I may not be happy with my problems, but I certainly don’t want to switch with anyone else. I’m used to my baggage and am not ready to take a chance on someone else’s. I’m reminded of the person who thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s easy to be fooled by what we cannot see.” ~Gail Hamm, program director
by Gail Hamm, program director
This morning, I want to reflect on one of Regina Brett’s Life Lessons: Always choose life. I’d like to change the word from “life” to “living”. I say this because it’s so easy to stop living while still being alive. By that I mean going through the motions as if one is living, but not really being engaged or conscious or aware of each moment. This often occurs because of trauma, which causes a person to become stuck in time. Having a loved one die, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or being traumatized through an accident or military experience are examples of incidents which can cause “stuckness”. There is so much to experience in life, and time is so short, that it’s really a great waste of human potential when a person stops living each moment. We have a tag line here at Cancer Services: count moments count moments count moments count moments. It can be read as count moments or moments count. “Always choose life” means that moments count, so don’t miss them!
Between now and October 13, our employees, volunteers and clients will share some of their thoughts and reflections on Regina Brett’s life lessons. Today, board member Gayle Bloom and staff member Linda Bewley share their thoughts on “throwing pity parties to the curb and finding the joys in life.”
“After being diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years ago, my oncologist said something very interesting that became my life position… she said ‘live your life.’ That was her answer when I asked ‘why me?’ She also said to live with fear and anxiety each day would be to ‘not live your life.’
It was some of the best advice I was given. The journey was much more palatable with this positive life lesson.”
~ Gayle Bloom, board member
“After receiving a cancer diagnosis, I must admit I spent some time having a pity party — why me? I try to do everything right! My husband and I have little kids to raise! I haven’t done all I wanted to do yet!! Then, one day, as I was sitting watching my children laughing and playing, two important things hit me: first, this attitude was causing me to miss out on the joys of living, and second, I certainly wasn’t ready to get busy dying.”
~ Linda Bewley, 20 year survivor and staff member
Today, volunteer Lynette Fager and Client Advocate Denise Glasser share their thoughts on Regina Brett’s Life Lesson #12: It’s ok to let your children see you cry.
“My mother isn’t one to cry often. In fact, in my 24 years, I have seen her cry very little, and never for herself. But the day she told us she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I saw her cry — for herself, for her husband, and for her three children and two grandchildren. But instead of scaring us, as she feared her tears would, they drew us closer together as a family. Instead of seeing her tears as a weakness, we saw them as a sign of her love for her family and her zeal for life!
My mother is a beautiful woman who battled bravely against breast cancer and won! She met each obstacle in her path with a can-do attitude. But if it hadn’t been for her tears, her children might not have understood just what that journey meant to her, and to us. When mom cried, we knew how much she needed us! It was not only OK for my mom to let us see her cry; it was an important part of our journey with her. ”
~ Lynette Fager, volunteer
“I have to admit to being a tender-hearted soul. For years, I tried to pretend otherwise. I thought showing emotions meant I was a weak person and that other people would see me as vulnerable and not able to take care of myself — let alone help others. It is amazing how that has all changed.
My dad died 7 years ago when my oldest child was 5 years old. I tried to be strong for everyone, so I did most of my crying in the bathroom after everyone else was in bed. What I didn’t know was that my 5 year old son was coming downstairs and heard me crying through the door. I don’t know how long this went on until one day he told me he was scared. He knew something was wrong and thought I was sick, like grandpa. I had to tell him the truth about how I was very sad about my dad dying and what he was hearing was me crying. He told me he was sad too and asked if he could come to the bathroom with me and cry too.
With that comment, he reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my grief and that hiding in a bathroom is no way to deal with emotions — mine or my child’s. Through sharing my tears with my son, I not only received comfort and gave comfort, I also showed my son that it’s a good thing to be honest about your feelings.”
~ Denise Glasser, client advocate
by Dianne May, president and CEO
I came across this story recently…
In the 1950s and 1960s, Charles Laughton was one of the great and best known actors in Hollywood. The story goes that Laughton was attending a Christmas Party with a family in London. During the evening, the folks asked everyone attending to recite a favorite passage that best represented the spirit of Christmas.
When it was Laughton’s turn, he skillfully recited the 23rd Psalm. Everyone applauded his participation.
The last to participate was an adored, elderly aunt who was dozing off in the corner. Someone gently woke her, explained what was going on, and asked her to take part. She thought for a moment. And in a shaky voice, she began: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .” When she finished, everyone was in tears.
At the end of the evening, when it was time to leave, a member of the family thanked Laughton for coming and remarked about the difference in the response by the family to the two presentations of the Psalm. When they asked him his opinion, Laughton responded, “I know the psalm. She knows the shepherd.”
It seems to me there are lessons in life that we only truly learn when we have lived them.