Despite setbacks, Sandusky family has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season

SANDUSKY Thanksgiving had special meaning for the Risk family this year. Stacey Risk'
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Thanksgiving had special meaning for the Risk family this year.

Stacey Risk's husband, Shane, and their three young girls were thankful they could celebrate the holiday with Stacey, who is battling cancer.

In July, Stacey went to the emergency room in extreme pain and learned she had a brain tumor. It was Stage 4 cancer, and doctors told her they were not sure what would happen.

The tumor was removed two days later. Doctors then looked for the source of the cancer and found it in her lungs.

In August, the doctors performed surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes from her lungs. She's had radiation on her head and is preparing for a preventative dose of chemotherapy.

Now doctors say she's cancer free.

Stacey said she could not have made it through this ongoing process without the help of others.

"It's humbling. I am so thankful for friends, family and even strangers," she said.

Raising three young girls is a challenge in itself, but Stacey said they keep her going with their laughter and jokes.

While this has been a difficult experience, explaining the cancer to the girls was a different type of challenge, she said.

"I told them Mommy had an alien in her brain, but they took it out, and now she's getting medicine to make it better," she said.

Twins Allison and Jordyn, 4, have handled the situation well, but Jenna, 7, has a better understanding of what's going on and is having a more difficult time.

Stacey and Shane said they've done what they can to help the girls, and the girls' teachers and guidance counselors have been a tremendous support.

The ongoing fight is nowhere near its end, but there is hope in sight. Stacey will begin occupational and physical therapy to help her strength in walking.

This is something Stacey knows something about. She is an occupational therapy assistant at North Point Educational Center. The same treatment she does with children, she is now going through as a patient. She jokes with her students about doing the same therapy.

She said she misses her students, and she's anxious to get back to work.

"It's been difficult 'cause I hate sitting around," she said.

While her job is waiting for her when she is able to go back, Shane does not have that same luxury. He lost his job because his company downsized.

Stacey said the job loss was a blessing. Shane is now able to help around the house, take care of the girls and get Stacey to all her doctors' appointments. She doesn't know how she would cope without his help.

"I have a new appreciation for laundry," Shane said, with a laugh.

The Risk family is getting by with the help of the community. They have received anonymous donations and have been inundated with meals.

On top of that, they are getting support to pay their medical bills with benefits thrown by friends and family.

The twins' preschool teacher is planning a benefit Saturday for the family. She has organized a tea party at Karen's Holistic Wellness Center. The event will include tea readings, a 50/50 drawing and raffles. Tickets ate $15 in advance or $20 at the door.

The Risk family has a long road ahead of them, but they're confident they will get through it.

"We're survivors," Shane said.