My sister Nancy was a warrior.

Nancy's Daughters
Nancy's Daughters

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Remembering Nancy
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Nancy was a single woman who had conquered her career, but she wanted a family, so she made one herself. As China was first opening it's doors to Americans to adopt their babies, after a mound of paperwork, and becoming certified as a foster parent in Illinois, and eighteen months wait, Nancy went to China. She spent a month in China with a cash belt around her waist with thousands of US dollars, so she could pay off each government official as she went from town to town with the attorney she paid to come with her. She was petrified, but the agency that set up her trip told her cash only.

Her second trip to China went much smoother, only two weeks. Things were becoming more organized. Things were much safer, only two large cities to visit, still the money belt, still the payoffs. Piece of cake, she said.

Nancy wanted one more child, but China's policy was only two babies for single mothers. So Nancy began looking at other Asian countries. She found a five year old in Kazakhstan, and instantly, Nancy knew that this was her daughter. This was also her most dangerous trip. During her month long stay in a country that was under what appeared to be martial law at the time, Nancy experienced an in depth interrogation after being taken into custody by Kazak soldiers with automatic weapons, and held for the entire day. Our only communication was through fax, from her to me, I could not communicate back to her. My sister finally made it home with the most endearing yet accident prone 5 year old daughter of all!

Only four years later, with her daughters at the ages of nine, eleven and fourteen, my sister was diagnosed with a glioblastoma metaforme, which is a fancy term for a fatal brain tumor. The doctors told her she probably had about eighteen months to live. After mapping surgery (while she was awake), all of the radiation a person can have during their lifetime, and months of chemotherapy, Nancy lost her battle with cancer less than six months after she was diagnosed on December 13, 2006. Just twelve days before Christmas.

My husband, Victor, and I had just started dating at the time, but somehow he knew we would end up married. He promised Nancy that he would help me raise her daughters, so she was happy that they would finally have a father. Soon after Nancy was diagnosed, a neighbor told me about Wellness House in Hinsdale. The girls and I took a drive with my youngest daughter and we discovered a beautiful home converted into a multi-level menagerie of helpfulness and caring. Anything and everything you could think of for the person who has cancer, it seemed, was offered there. Grief groups for my nieces, for caretakers (me), classes about cancer, nutrition, which I offered to Nancy. Unfortunately, Nancy was very private, and chose not to partake of Wellness House's gifts at no cost. My nieces and I spent quite a bit of time at the Wellness House while Nancy was sick. And at times, like the Memorial Service for all, the rest of our family received much care and support from the Wellness House, also. The dedication of those who work here is so apparent, they are very caring people. The Wellness House is such a blessing to the entire community and far beyond.

I am participating in the Walk for Wellness House because I know how important support and community is for people impacted by cancer, and I want to ensure their access to the life-changing programs and services at Wellness House.

I hope you will join me by making a donation to help me reach my fundraising goals, but more importantly to help people affected by cancer in our community.

Thank you!

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