Celebrating the champions in the lives of cancer survivors.
April 10, 2002
Greater Columbus Convention Center – Columbus, Ohio
Stefanie Spielman is a breast cancer survivor. Her recovery was aided by the devotion of her husband, former Ohio State and professional football star Chris Spielman. She believes that if she had such a powerful champion, then other cancer survivors may have had such champions, too.
Now, through Stefanie's Champions, established at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Stefanie gives other cancer survivors the opportunity to recognize the champions in their lives. Every year, the award recognizes the most outstanding examples of inspiration and motivation in the lives of cancer survivors. Read the stories of these champions and the survivors who nominated them:
Back Row: Ed Schreiber, Bill Moberger Jr, Bill Eversole
Front Row: Chris Spielman, Mike Dyas, Donna Irvine, Karolyn Metz, Pat Davis, Stefanie Spielman
Mike Dyas - Nominated by Survivor Cindy Dyas
Cindy's Story: Battling metastatic breast cancer for more than ten years, Cindy Dyas of Columbus, Ohio, has seen her husband Mike as a "quiet soldier," taking care of their three children, starting a new business and being a constant comfort and companion to her as she has endured multiple treatments for a disease that has repeatedly disrupted their home.
"When I was diagnosed in 1991, Mike and I were 36 and had three small children," Cindy wrote. "We were devastated, but Mike was by my side. We had a great support system of family and friends, but it was Mike who watched his wife falter, and he had to pick up the pieces."
When she had a blood and marrow transplantation, he stayed with her for most of three weeks, going home on weekends to be with their kids and, while there, making videotapes. "He became a very special movie director, making videos of the kids singing and acting out plays. They made me laugh," Cindy wrote.
The cancer later spread to her bones and, still later, to her brain. Chemotherapy, a gamma knife treatment and whole-brain radiation therapy followed. Through it all, Mike handled his kids, his wife and his new business.
"He made it so easy for me not to worry and to get to the business of survival." When she had whole-brain radiation, she lost her hair again and was having memory problems. "I was worried that I might not recover from the treatment as well as the cancer. We prayed. Mike was steadfast and loyal. The tumors disappeared." She believes his gifts of patience and love have helped her survive. "In a time when so many marriages end in divorce, he has stayed true. I thank God every day for this quiet hero."
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Bill Eversole - Nominated by Survivor Kathy Dickman
Kathy's Story: When Kathy Dickman was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2000, she gave the man she had been dating for five months many chances to break off their relationship. She knew he had gone through this before with his wife, who had died of breast cancer after being sick for three years. Kathy, too, had experienced such a loss when her husband died of cardiac arrest, leaving her and their three children behind. But Bill Eversole of Columbus Grove, Ohio would not consider stepping away.
"Through it all, he was truly there for me in every way," Kathy wrote. "He went with me for many trips to Columbus for my mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, follow-up appointments, my first chemo, etc. During the treatment when I was sick and depressed, I would call him many times in the middle of the night and he would always talk me through it. He would always let me vent to him, and he always made me feel better about my decisions and myself. One special moment was when I had lost all my hair and went over to his house for the first time. I had on a denim hat. He gave me a big kiss and said, 'You are just cuter than a bug's ear!' That meant everything to me. How tough it must have been for Bill to revisit all that he had been through, and to take the chance of losing someone again that you love, but he did it for me and because of that he is my very special Champion."
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Donna Irvine - Nominated by JoAnn Bowers & The Hocking County Cancer Support Group
Donna's Story: Donna Irvine of Logan, Ohio, a breast cancer survivor who founded a Cancer Support Group in Hocking County, has her own fan club — a group of local cancer survivors who have benefited from her constant hard work and compassion. Several of them nominated her as one of "Stefanie's Champions."
Donna used to attend a cancer support group in Fairfield County and would often take other survivors with her. After a time, she organized a Hocking County group that consists of some 70 members and has an average monthly attendance of 30.
"She doesn't stop with our meetings, but unselfishly calls members to check on their well-being and then gives support and help as needed," wrote one nominator. "This consists of home visits, hospital visits, cards signed by the group and many other forms of support."
Wrote another: "Donna plans our group program and arranges speakers and guests. When my cancer was diagnosed spreading into the bone and liver, she heard our church was doing a fundraiser to bring our daughter and family home from Australia to be with me for a visit. She presented this to our group, and among all involved they raised enough money to bring them home."
A third person wrote: "Her dedication is 24/7. She follows each person who is stricken and keeps the group updated. She does a lot behind the scenes, and her mannerism is one of serenity. With God's guidance and angels like Donna, there is relief for many who have this disease."
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Karolyn Metz & Pat Davis - Nominated by Survivor Phyllis Bible
Phyllis' Story: After Phyllis Bible was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2000, she underwent three surgeries in less than three months (two lumpectomies and a double mastectomy). Four days after her third operation, she developed a blood clot in her neck and had to have medication injections. Through it all, her entire family was supportive, but Phyllis says her sisters, Karolyn Metz of Granville, Ohio, and Pat Davis of Coshocton, Ohio,"completely took over from the time I was diagnosed," driving her to her many appointments in Columbus and rearranging their work and family schedules to devote time to her.
"Karolyn has a daughter who is almost blind from diabetes and is in need of daily assistance, but this didn't deter her devotion to care for me," Phyllis wrote. "Pat's care and support were equally appreciated. She was hospitalized and underwent surgery, but still put me first in her life despite her own physical needs."
Phyllis says it's difficult to put into words everything her sisters have done for her and her family. "I received cards, phone calls and visits daily. They stayed with me after my last surgery as I needed assistance with tubes and pumps for two weeks. They prepared meals, did laundry, cleaned house and took care of my personal needs...They showed me that love conquers all, and I want to be there for others to share this love. I thank God every day for giving me my sisters, my best friends, my Champions."
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Bill Moberger Jr. - Nominated by Survivor Cindy Wesney
Cindy's Story: Cindy Wesney believes she inconvenienced her boss, Bill Moberger of Columbus, Ohio, and his company for a year while she was treated for an aggressive Stage II breast cancer, but he never wavered in his support.
"He told me not to worry about my job nor my insurance; he would take care of this. He said for me to work on fighting this cancer," wrote Cindy, noting that the company her husband worked for had just gone bankrupt and that the couple would soon have a son graduating from high school and a daughter getting married.
During her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she was often late for work, but Bill had other workers cover for her. "The world needs more employers like him to support their employees with cancer instead of finding a reason to fire them," Cindy wrote. "He supported me all the way through this and now donates money to the Breast Cancer Research Program. At the end of my long year through surgery and treatment, he gave me a Gold Star Trophy that says 'Hero of the Year.' I am not the hero, he is."
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Ed Schreiber - Nominated by Survivor Kim Schreiber
Kim's Story: Since Kim Schreiber had an emergency operation in 1999 that revealed Stage III endometrial cancer, her father, Ed Schreiber of Milford, Ohio, has tirelessly attended to her needs. "When I began six months of intensive chemotherapy at The James, Dad would drive from Milford every three weeks to keep me company both when I was in the hospital and when I returned to my Worthington home to recuperate."
They rejoiced when they thought she was "home free," but in April 2001 they learned the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and liver. She had moved back to her parents' home to start a new life without cancer, so they were all devastated at the recurrence.
"It was Dad's positive spirit that uplifted me each day as he gently encouraged me not to quit. Dad and I pray together daily. He takes me to every doctor appointment. Whatever the need, Dad is there. He has said that God has given us this special time that we might not otherwise have had without cancer. We cherish all our days together as gifts. He has sacrificed many a golf outing, get-together – basically the things that constitute the joy of retirement – in our mission to defeat cancer. It is with gratitude for his untiring love that I nominate him as my champion."