Kathy Nestor thought she understood.
She encountered it every day at the Firelands Cancer Center where she volunteers, and stood by her mother, Betty Hallock, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 24 years ago.
But nothing could prepare her for her own diagnosis.
"It's like the end of the world," she said.
Nestor was diagnosed with breast cancer on Dec. 18, 2002, at the age of 49.
She was devastated by the news, thinking of her children who were 15 and 22 at the time.
"Nobody knows until they go through it," she said. "You think you are the only one in the world. You plan your funeral."
Nestor found comfort in talking to her mom and other cancer patients.
That's why she said it's so important for cancer patients to find support among people who are battling cancer or who have survived.
And sometimes support comes with a party hat.
Girls' Night Out, an annual event to raise money for area cancer charities, will be 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Nia Center of the Kalahari Resort, 7000 Kalahari Drive.
In addition to raising money, it brings together patients, survivors, families and community members interested in fighting cancer.
"It's just a fun night to let their hair down," Nestor said. "To get to know other people who are going through it."
The evening will feature a sit-down dinner, entertainment by magician Jania Taylor, the band Wally and the Beavs, a silent auction, caricatures, henna body art, a pink balloon pop raffle, and a top-of-the line jewelry raffle. Girls' Night Out will also feature the game "Deal or No Deal" with 26 of finest men from area emergency services.
We're not heroes
The organizer, Doug Studer, said he and his wife, Gretchen, started hosting the event four years ago because they wanted to do something for women.
“The reason we went this route because there is nothing for women,” Studer said. “There is nothing specially for women to have a good time and raise some money.”
He and his wife have had family members and close friends succumb to cancer and understand how important it is to support area cancer charities.
“We’re not heroes,” Studer said, “The heroes here are the people who have to survive and the charities who give so much.”
This year he hopes to raise about $35,000. Last year, 1,000 women attended the event and raised $25,000.
The money raised is distributed to Cancer Services, Fisher-Titus Mammography Fund, Firelands Regional Medical Center Cancer Program Fund and North Coast Cancer Foundation.
Money for a good cause
Pat Miller, executive director of Cancer Services said on her agency’s $130,000 yearly budget, money brought in by Girls’ Night Out is a big help. Half of the money raised at the event goes to Cancer Services.
“This $15,000 that’s going to be generated this year is a large part,” Miller said.
She said the agency has the largest number of clients it has ever serviced this year at 245.
Cancer services pays for items and services beyond what is covered by health insurance, such as equipment, medicines, nutritional support and supplements.
“We try to meet their needs like we would like ours to be met,” Miller said.
She said in addition to being a financial help, Girls’ Night Out is an opportunity to promote Cancer Services to the community. The agency is always accepting medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, hospital beds and other items former patients don’t need anymore.
“Doug and Gretchen made it possible for us to get the word out there,” she said. “We have the opportunity to help innumerable numbers of people. They’re just wonderful.”
A mother’s fight
While she has not been to Girls’ Night out, Nestor’s mother, Betty Hallock, said she knows how important it is to have support and a positive outlook on recovery.
She was working as a nurse at Providence Care Center when she was diagnosed 24 years ago at the age of 58. She said her boss sat with her throughout the day, comforting her.
“That’s when you know you have friends,” Hallock said. “When something like this happens.”
Though her battle with cancer was a short one — she got a mastectomy just a few weeks after diagnosis — it left a lasting impression on her life.
“You worry about every little pain you get,” she said.
Hallock said a co-worker who had breast cancer was a key support for her when she was diagnosed.
“Get in a support group,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to talk to people because then you find out you aren’t alone.”
Nestor said she recently arrived on a friend’s doorstep with tissues and chocolates after the woman was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I said, ‘OK, I’m here. Let’s cry,’” she said. “You can get through just about anything if you have chocolate.”
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Girls' Night Out
WHEN: 4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 29
WHERE: Kalahari Resorts Nia Center, 7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky
TICKETS: are $40, and dinclude dinner, dessert, entertainment and the chance to win prizes
Tickets available at:
• Curves, 424 Cleveland Road E.
• Cornell’s, 408 Cleveland Road E.
• Huron Chamber of Commerce, 509 Huron St.
• Curves, 709 W. Perkins Ave.
• Cancer Services, 505 E. Perkins Ave.
• Pierre’s QuickPrint, 1005 Cleveland Road
• ProVision Optical 1206 Hull Road
• Firelands Regional Medical Center Gift Shop, 1101 Hayes Ave.
• James A. Bertsch Jeweler, 101 West Market St.
• Crider Quality Jewelers, 4424 Milan Road
• North Coast Cancer Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
• 417 Quarry Lakes Drive
•Curves, 201 Milan Ave.
•Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s Gift Shop Patient Pavilion, Fisher-Titus Parkway
• Sheri’s Coffeehouse, 27 Whittlesey Ave.
• Crider Quality Jewelers, 16 W. Main St.
• Crider Quality Jewelers, 122 Blossom Centre