Archive for February, 2010

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Goodbye, Dear Gretchen

February 18, 2010

 

Gretchen with her husband Phil

Three weeks ago, I asked you to pray for my friend Gretchen Skeldon, a 4-time cancer survivor who was hospitalized with some serious health problems.   I received so many emails and comments about Gretchen that I wanted to let you know our prayers have been answered, although not the way we hoped they would be.

Gretchen died peacefully at Hospice Wednesday morning.  The fact that this was Ash Wednesday was not lost on the people who knew Gretchen as a devout and faithful Catholic.   Gretchen’s belief in God, and her unwavering faith that He has a plan for all of us helped her get through some very trying times and I hope it helped take some of the fear away in these final days.  But the selfless way Gretchen lived her life every day has always inspired me and so many others.  

She sang the national anthem at the 2009 Rockets for the Cure game

Because she was so young when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and because she battled it with such grace, I asked her many times to talk to other young women who were newly diagnosed.  She always made the time to offer her support and share her experiences with them.  She also volunteered countless hours to raise money and awareness for breast cancer through NW Ohio Komen.    She never shied away from an opportunity to help and truly believed a cure would be found in her lifetime. 

Something I find so amazing about my friend Gretchen is her ability to reach and teach people even in her last vulnerable days.  

This is the picture Gretchen wanted the doctors and nurses to see

As her health started to deteriorate, Gretchen shared with me that she was concerned her nurses and doctors would not know “the real me.  They only see a bald, sick-looking invalid lying in this bed.  They don’t know that two months ago I was a normal person!”     I promised her they would know the real Gretchen and in her last few days when groups of doctors and nurses would come into her room at UTMC and she couldn’t talk for herself, I would point to a beautiful picture of Gretchen on the wall and say “Before you start your exam, let me properly introduce you to my friend, Gretchen.  She is a vivacious, incredible person–beautiful inside and out.  She is a mom, and a wife and a friend and she wanted to make sure you knew she was a normal person before she ended up in that hospital bed.”   

They would all take a good long look at Gretchen’s beautiful face and and nearly every one of them thanked me for reminding them of that important lesson.  I kept thinking to myself “Gretchen can’t even talk and she’s still teaching people and inspiring people to be better.” 

Her last selfless act: to donate her body to the scientists at UTMC.   It was her hope that by studying her body, doctors will discover something that will help the next woman with breast cancer survive.   

Breast cancer brought Gretchen to me in 2003, the year the NW Ohio/Komen Race for the Cure was run “In Celebration of Gretchen Skeldon.”    Today, breast cancer took my dear friend away.   But Gretchen leaves behind a legacy of giving and love that most of us can only aspire to. Our world will forever be a better place because she was here.   Goodbye, dear Gretchen.

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“V” is for Victory Center

February 8, 2010

I was the Master of Ceremonies, posing here with some of the models including my colleague, Melissa Voetsch!

Five hundred people gathered Friday to celebrate one important cause: victory over cancer.    The Victory Center is an amazing resource for our community and we are lucky to have it.  Friday was one of the Victory Center’s major fundraisers: the 3rd annual Luncheon and Fashion Show.    Local women’s boutiques joined forces for this one:  Sophie’s Sister, Lady C, the Sophia Lustig Shop, Lily Whitestone, Ragazza and Elegant Rags brought us a preview of Spring.  But what made this fashion show special was the models:  many were cancer survivors with amazing and inspirational stories to share.   These ladies were beautiful inside AND out!

If you are diagnosed with cancer, or if someone you love is diagnosed, the Victory Center should be one of the first phone calls you make.   It is a fabulous resource for information, support groups, and adjunctive services like massage, reflexology, and exercise classes.   While the doctors work to fix your body, the Victory Center works to fix your spirit.   No need is too big or too small for staff at the Victory Center.    Check them out online at www.thevictorycenter.org or 419-531-7600.     If you like what you see available, come to our next fundraiser or send a donation.    Toledo is blessed to have such a resource available but it is funded entirely by donations and corporate sponsorships.   Every dollar helps!

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Girls Got Game!

February 2, 2010

The Blade/Andy Morrison

Thrilling.  Heart-stopping.  Stomach-churning.  You might think I’m talking about the newest ride at Cedar Point, but no–those are the words I use to describe the way I spent my afternoon on Saturday, watching the University of Toledo women’s basketball team take on the ladies from Bowling Green State University.  Both teams are terrific: each picked to win its division in the MAC.  Both coaches are outstanding:  Tricia Cullop and Curt Miller were MAC co-coaches of the year last year. 

But major credit also goes to the fans!  The atmosphere in Savage Arena was simply electric!  Fans from both teams filled the stands, setting a MAC on-campus attendance record of 5,825.    Nearly 6,000 people watching a women’s basketball game!  The support from the students was fantastic, including a huge contingent of UT football players there to cheer the women on.   And when the Rockets won the game–66 to 63–those fans stormed the court, hugging the players and celebrating the victory with excitement.    The UT-BG rivalry is a great one, and it had been six years since the Rockets had beaten BG. 

The Blade/Andy Morrison

How exciting to be at the game!  I felt so proud to be there with my 9 year old daughter, showing her that women’s sports do matter;  and that fans–at least around here–appreciate a girl who’s got game!

Join us Saturday, February 13th at Savage Arena for Rockets for the Cure!  The UT ladies take on Western Michigan at 2 PM in a special game to benefit NW Ohio Komen for the Cure!  For tickets, call 419-530-GOLD.