Celebrating the champions in the lives of cancer survivors.
April 30, 2003
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: Jason Rich, Stefanie & Chris Spielman, Fritz Goss
Front Row: Lora Dupler, Gay Nash, MarLita Bartlett, Bethany Amrine, Joan McClain
Fritz Goss - Nominated by Kate Goss
“Our journey with cancer has been a marathon, not a sprint,” says Kate Goss. It was nearly 15 years ago that Kate was diagnosed with cancer. She had met her husband, Fritz, when they were both teaching in Columbus. It was during Kate’s pregnancy that doctors found the malignant melanoma. “It wasn’t easy to face my own mortality at the same time we were bringing a new baby into the world, but I was blessed to have Fritz by my side and Dr. James as my surgeon,” Kate says. Several years later, doctors found out Kate had developed breast cancer, too. Incredibly, the marathon was not over, the cancer had spread to her liver. Fritz left the teaching career he loved to take care of Kate and spend more time with his family. “Through it all, he has seen me through rose-colored glasses,” Kate says. “The baldness, the weight gain and scars, he always tells me what a beautiful smile and gorgeous eyes I have. I have never doubted his love, devotion or tireless energy. He is my champion.”
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Jason Rich - Nominated by Keena Rich
Keena Rich was only 13 when she was first treated for ovarian cancer. “I had surgery and a year of chemotherapy before going into remission. My dream was to one day become an OSU cheerleader, and I wasn’t going to let it stop me.” Her dream came true when she made the squad her freshman year. Through another member of the team, she met her future husband, Jason. “He had been a cheerleader, too, so he often came back to help out with practice. We dated while he worked his way through medical school and I studied for my undergraduate degree,” says Keena. But just before Keena was able to graduate, she was diagnosed with cancer again. “I was worried my newfound love would be frightened off by what was to come.” But Jason never faltered. “He stayed by my side through surgery and treatments, and believed in me when I lost hope. He helped me get back to classes, and through his support I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college.” Jason and Keena now coach a high school cheerleading team and love to work together. Keena knows that no matter what lies ahead, she will never have to face it alone.
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Bethany Amrine - Nominated by Susan Jo Amrine
Susie Amrine was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2001. “My 12 year old daughter, Bethany, was getting ready to show her sheep, so I kept it from her until the long ride home,” says Susie. But Bethany behaved like a champion from the beginning, shoring up hope, helping with the housework, changing her mother’s surgical dressings and sleeping by her bed at night during chemo in case she needed anything. “I remember when my hair fell out in the bathtub – Bethany helped shave the scrappy parts left, then the following weekend returned with her long ponytail in her hand, telling me we’d grow our hair back together.” All this, and Bethany was still making straight A’s at school, playing basketball and running track. “After five boys, I longed for a little girl,” says Susie. “I got an angel. Bethany was my strength during my illness and my hope for the future. I know she will be a special young woman no matter what she chooses to do.”
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Lora Dupler - Nominated by Dan Dupler
Looking back, Dan Dupler and his doctors think his liver cancer might have started following surgery for a motorcycle accident over 35 years ago. “When the doctor said the biopsy was positive. I mean, it’s a wake-up call,” says Dan. “He said I would need a transplant, and fast.” Dan and his wife Lora immediately started looking for the right hospital. “I thought you just signed up and got on a list,” says Dan. But it wasn’t that easy. Dan’s cancer had already spread throughout his liver, and he was unable to qualify for a transplant at several hospitals. Finally, an organ was available. Lora kicked into high gear. She packed the bags, took care of the children and scrambled on board the waiting plane. “She was the first person I saw when I woke up, and has been by my side every second of my recuperation. She made sure my medications were right, she hooked up my feeding tubes, everything. Our roles were reversed. She was the one who stepped up to the big game,” says Dan. “She is a champion.”
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Marlita Bartlett & Gay Nash - Nominated by Linda Kanney
Linda Kanney is a “can-do” kind of person. No-nonsense, practical, cheerful – “I always see the positive side of things,” she says. She first discovered the lump in her breast by herself, and thought it was nothing. Even when she found out it was cancer, she felt it was something she could cope with. “I never get depressed, but I became depressed and I felt like a caged animal in my own house. I would pace, but nothing held my attention.” She says she would never have gotten through it without the love and support of her two best friends, Gay Nash and MarLita Bartlett, it felt like they were more sisters than friends and neither would let Linda experience cancer alone. Through every chemo treatment, every crying spell, every time Linda felt she just couldn’t go on, one of them stayed by her. “Everyone needs friends like them,” says Linda, “The funny thing is, their love and sacrifice don’t seem like that big a deal to them; they just say that’s what friends are for.” There is a word for such care and devotion. The word is “champions.”
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Joan McClain - Nominated by Cindy Monroe
It’s hard for Cindy to believe it’s been almost ten years since she was first diagnosed with lymphoma, because the memories of her mother’s extraordinary care are still so vivid in her memory. “ I remember the day of the diagnosis. Everything was moving so fast, because of the severity of the disease. My mother immediately took a leave of absence from her workplace – although she could hardly afford to do that – and rushed to my side,” says Cindy. And Joan McClain stayed there until her daughter was safely in remission a year later. “I don’t see how she had the energy,” says Cindy. “Up at dawn, not getting into bed until midnight – caring every day for three young grandchildren, and then driving me two 50-mile trips every week for treatments at The James.” Joan once promised aloud she would even “mortgage her home if that’s what it takes to get Cindy well.” Such daily acts of devotion add up to a very powerful message of love and support. For some families, such sacrifice seems so effortless. It’s just they way they are.
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2003 Honorary Chairs: Larry and Molly Ruben
Volunteers make Stefanie’s Champions a success!
David E. Schuller, MD, executive director of The James, with 2000 and 2001 Honorary Chairs Jackie and Bill Wells