Meet Susan Leigh From Fox Valley Food For Health

OCSA gratefully learned about Fox Valley Food for Health from several Fox Valley physicians and our collaborating partner Fox Trot Organic Farm.  We hope the partnership at the OCSA 5K Dog Walk is only the beginning of beautiful friendship!

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OCSA: Can you tell us about the origins of the Fox Valley Food for Health organization?
Susan Leigh: Fox Valley Food for Health started in the summer of 2012, when the idea first developed regarding the building of a charity that would combine healthy nutrition, teen education and helping those in our community going through serious illness like cancer. I had previously met the Founder of the Ceres Project in Sebastopol, California and that program framework was adopted. The first meals were delivered in November/December 2012 and our launch was complete and successful!

OCSA: Can you tell us about the early collaboration with co-founder Mary Fremgen?
SL: Mary and I worked together at Living Well in 2011/12 teaching and serving nutritious meals, and saw the need for something that could be expanded. With Mary’s background in dietetics and Susan’s in culinary arts the two teamed up to create a local program serving the needs of the community.

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OCSA: What are the details of the program?  Can you tell us about your partnership with Fox Trot Organic Farm?
SL: The program focuses on teens and clients going through serious illness like cancer.  Teen volunteers are taught healthy cooking skills and leadership principles as they prepare approximately 400 meals per week at the Kane County Fairgrounds kitchen we currently utilize.  Adult Kitchen Mentors (most with professional culinary training) teach on Mondays/Tuesdays, as the meals are prepared.  The meals are then delivered to clients who are going through cancer treatments.  We provide meals for the whole family, as we believe that the benefits are multiplied when a family eats together and the caregivers are relieved from a sometimes-difficult burden.  Adult volunteers support the process every step along the way. This fall Fox Valley Food for Health will work with Fox Trot Organic farm to supply some of our fresh produce in the Food for Health kitchen. Over the last couple of years Ellen and Jeff have been part of our teen education program. Our mission is to teach our teens about the preparation of healthy food, healthy environmental sciences and supporting local agriculture.

OCSA: How do you determine eligibility for your program and what is the cost to the participant?
SL: The basic program provides meals at no cost for the first eight to twelve weeks.  Eligibility is based on need, the willingness to take on a new healthy eating style and living within our delivery boundaries (30 minutes from our kitchen).

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OCSA: Please tell us about Hudson, the FVFFH mascot and will he join you and your team at the OCSA 5K Dog walk on September 10, 2017?
SL: Hudson is a 16 week-old Old English Sheepdog, full of life, joy and energy.  He arrived on the 30th of June from a wonderful breeder in Elsberry, Missouri, and brings joy and smiles to whomever he meets! Hudson is looking forward to joining all the dogs on September 10th at the OCSA Dog Walk! Although he is too young to do the full 5k he will be at the starting line cheering on all the other dogs!

For more information Fox Valley Food for Health, please visit: www.foxvalleyfoodforhealth.org

To sign-up for OCSA’s 5K Dog Walk & Fun Run, visit: http://www.ovariancancersymptomawareness.org/st-charles-5k-dog-walk-fun-run/ 

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Meet Our Friends, Jon & Lois Maroni

One of our co-founders had the opportunity to meet and experience the gracious hospitality of Jon & Lois Moroni at the Restful Nest in June of 2017.  It was just a delight and oh, the breakfast repasts!!

 

OCSA: Can you tell us about the Restful Nest and why you decided to open a B&B 20 years ago outside Mariposa, California?

Jon & Lois: It was my wife’s dream to do it years before we decided to do it. We visited 7 states but returned to California.  Mariposa is the gateway to Yosemite National Park and we loved it as a visitor and decided to open a B & B close to it.  We enjoy people, the area and it was affordable!!

OCSA: How many visitors have you hosted from around the world and who was your most memorable visitor?

Jon & Lois: We have hosted many visitors of all religious backgrounds from Asia, Canada, Europe, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and all of South and Central America and Mexico and grace has been delivered at breakfast in many different languages.  Most recently a lovely trio from Chicago visited us and they will remain anonymous! Our most memorable visitor was one of the supreme court justices from Kenya.

*EDITOR NOTE: Lois and Jon are also known as “Nana & Papa” to many people around the world, you would understand why if you come and visit the Restful Nest.

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OCSA: Can you tell us about the wonderful breakfasts that you serve every morning for your guests?

Jon & Lois: I never had a cooking lesson but we enjoy cooking, we enjoy inventing different recipes and we usually serve two courses in the morning.  We try to make changes every day and serve our guests different culinary requirements. Lois does have one rule though:  Mangia, Mangia and don’t come into my kitchen. You are my guests and it’s YOUR vacation!

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OCSA: Can you tell us a little bit about your friend Judy Foster who just passed away from ovarian cancer in June of 2017?

Jon & Lois: She opened her B&B “INN the Country” shortly after we did and joined the B&B Association.  She was one of the sweetest people we knew and very easy to talk to. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years ago but kept on working through her treatments setting up the Telephone Support Center for Yosemite Mariposa County B&B Association. Her guests enjoyed her B&B and she will be missed by many.

To learn more about Restful Nest Bed & Breakfast Resort, please visit: http://www.restfulnest.com/

Remembering Our Friend Joan M. Schaefer

OCSA is honored to dedicate this year’s annual golf outing to Joan M. Schaefer. A delightful lady, we first met several years ago through Roxanne Cochran, Lead Veterinary Technician at Gateway Veterinary Clinic whose Practice Owner is OCSA Board member Kurt Klepitsch, DVM.  From the very beginning, she believed in our mission and the work that OCSA was doing and loved the tie between our organization and the veterinary community. Her granddaughters Emily and Roxanne join us for a little chat remembering Joan and the life she led.

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OCSA: What can you tell us about the very special OCSA supporter Joan M. Schaefer who passed away from ovarian cancer in September of 2016?

Joan was born in Yonkers, New York in 1931. She was a mother to three children, a grandmother to 8 grandchildren, and a great grandmother to three great grand babies.

Joan loved gardening and was a long-time member of the Pottawatomie Garden Club of St. Charles. She enjoyed needle point sewing, reading, watching new films with friends, and taking vacations to New York to see her younger brother, Bruce.

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OCSA: Joan was the President of Billco Corporation in Addison, can you tell us about the family business?

Billco Corporation was established in 1973 by Joan’s husband Raymond Schaefer. Ray passed away unexpectedly in 1995, leaving Joan and Steve (Joan’s son-in-law) to continue the business. Together they succeeded in Ray’s wish to build a new manufacturing plant for the company. In 1997, the company moved to its present location in Addison.

Joan continued to successfully run the business for another 20 years, until she fell ill in 2015. The family continues the business taking great pride in selling American made pipe fittings.

OCSA: The diagnosis of any kind of cancer is always a shock and a challenge for the patient and family members. What do you do? Who do you believe?  And what about second opinions?

Joan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in late September 2015. It all started with her having urinary issues that doctors did not think anything of. She ended up in the ER when it became too painful.  The option of surgery at her age was a high risk. She opted for chemotherapy. It helped her tremendously, but there were a number of side effects (Joan underwent 9 rounds of chemotherapy). She was doing well and the cancer cells went dormant for about three months. Joan shined those three months! She was blessed with a summer to enjoy time with family and friends that none of us will ever forget. Joan, our grandmother was back!

Unfortunately, in August 2016 the cancer spread with a vengeance throughout her body. We regret that no bloodwork was done those months she was doing well. Maybe she could have fought this cancer again. She tried another form of chemotherapy that made her tremendously sick. It was at that point the decision to be comfortable was in the best interest of Joan.

OCSA: As a veterinary technician who is highly supportive of OCSA’s Veterinary Outreach Program, are we effectively getting the word out about the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer? Do you have any suggestions for us?

Roxanne and Emily, both grand-daughters of Joan attended OCSA’s dog walk in 2015. For the first time, Emily, a mother of two children was learning of the silent symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Not even two weeks later, our grandmother Joan was diagnosed with this disease.

She carried all of the silent symptoms, so many of us are unaware of. She was tired, bloated, had urinary troubles, felt full frequently, and suffered bad indigestion. Unfortunately, Joan didn’t think much of these symptoms, simply blaming them on “old age”

We both walked OCSA’s 2016 dog walk and unfortunately our grandmother passed away weeks later. September is a sad month. It is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, the month our grandmother was diagnosed with this cancer, and also left us.

OCSA is doing an amazing job spreading awareness, but we feel we need to do more! The statistics are heartbreaking. The more women that know about these symptoms the higher the likelihood of early detection, which hopefully will lead to a higher survival rate!

OCSA information brochures should be in as many gynecological clinics as possible. Waiting rooms are full of women and simply reading information, becoming aware of the symptoms, could be lifesaving!

Gynecological and Veterinary Clinics need to help partner together, the Outreach Program is showing amazing results making a direct correlation with women and dogs. We would love to see flyers/ brochures in waiting rooms for both clinics for men and women to read. The more we broadcast these symptoms, detection can hopefully be picked up sooner.

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OCSA: What life lessons have you and your family learned throughout this sad journey?

Life lesson learned is to never take your health for granted! Joan was blessed with 83 years of health and unfortunately, did not follow routine exams or bloodwork. She didn’t address her issues later in life, and possibly if they were addressed earlier the cancer could have been detected sooner, rather than at Stage 4. We also regret that not a single doctor performed a full physical exam, which involves palpating the abdomen. If an abdominal exam would have been performed, a doctor could have detected the tumor.

Joan is missed by all! She was passionate about OCSA from the very beginning of its formation 7 years ago, completely unaware this disease would later take her life. We as a family are committed to help spread the awareness of Ovarian Cancer as much as we can!

God Bless!

Meet Our Dear Friend, Mae Novak

One of OCSA’s biggest supporters and a dear friend to many on the team, Mae Novak, is kindly sharing her story with us today. She was an integral part in running the golf outing in July and will be attending the 5K Dog Walk & Fun Run with us on September 11th. The event supports OCSA’s Veterinary Outreach Program, a unique awareness campaign that partners with veterinarians.

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1. How did you become involved with OCSA?
Vallie asked if I would volunteer for the OCSA 2013 Golf Outing. I was assigned registration and this year was my fourth year.  The golf outing is such a fun event due to many factors. The golfers have supported OCSA each year and you couldn’t ask for a better group – also they are a lot of fun and I enjoy the lively conversations with them.

2. Tell us a little bit about your husband and the life you had together.
I lost Ed in 2008 within two week after being diagnosed with lung cancer.  He was not a smoker although his family were heavy smokers.  He was in the Navy and spent time aboard a submarine, which was close quarters all of this could have contributed to his lung cancer.

We were in business and worked together everyday.  We had great respect for what each of us brought to our marriage.

I have so many fond memories, not sure where to start.  I could write a book about our footprints on this earth.

My Ed was a down to earth person.  If there was anyone in need he was there to help him or her.  We enjoyed going to plays, concerts, movies and dining out especially trying new restaurants.  Our real passion was dancing.  We belonged to numerous organizations that had several dinner\dances during the year and we also belonged to a couple dance groups.

Family was so important to Ed and he adored Gail.  He was on cloud nine when Gail & Kurt gave us Ethan and Sidney.  Ethan and Sidney, have been such a joy in my life, they are my shinning stars forever.

Katelyn, Kurt’s niece, 20 years old lost her battle with ovarian cancer August 2013.

Joan my dear friend and neighbor lost her battle with ovarian cancer April 2015.

Janine another close friend had no chance we lost her two weeks after being diagnosed end of December 2015.

I want to climb the highest mountain and sing out loud and clear to all Women. Do not delay going to the doctor if you have any of the symptoms as you have more to gain than loose. If detected in the early stage you have a better chance to beat this Silent Killer.  Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease my passion is to raise awareness so women and men will recognize the symptoms.  I have a word for you men please go to your doctor for an annual checkup.

Your health is our concern, why you ask, we love you.

3. What do you enjoy most about being part of the OCSA community?
I enjoy working with the OCSA members as are they are one great group of people.  I love each and everyone of you for the support you give to each other.  We work hard but we have fun doing it, reason we are all on the same mission, that is to educate, educate and educate if only to save one life at a time.  May the Lord bless us on our mission.

4. Are there any events you look forward to in particular? The golf outing was an incredible success with all of your support.
I volunteer each year for OCSA Dog Walk and any other events that Vallie ask for my help.

I also volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in Winfield.

The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful life and then with the most loving family I could ever ask for.

It’s my tine to give back in whatever possible way I can.

Join OCSA for the Annual 5K Dog Walk & Fun Run on Sunday, September 11th at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles, IL. Find more information about the event and register online today by following this link: http://www.ovariancancersymptomawareness.org/st-charles-5k-dog-walk-fun-run/

Meet The Team Behind Shaggy to Chic

Meet Ginny and Kathy, two very special ladies From Shaggy to Chic. OCSA co-founder, Vallie Szymanski, has taken her Afghan Hounds to them for almost 30 years.  It is very hard to find a groomer who will accept Afghan Hounds because it is quite labor intensive, as you can well imagine.  Ginny and Kathy are so very kind and compassionate to everyone… both owners and dogs!!!

OCSA: Can you tell us what a day in the life of a Dog Groomer is like?

From Shaggy to Chic: Hairy, physically active but extremely rewarding. Unlike other jobs we don’t wake up wishing we had a different one. I’d say after 37 years in the business, that’s pretty darn exceptional!

OCSA: What about your longstanding support for OCSA? You have sponsored the Annual Dog Walk since the first one in 2010.

From Shaggy to Chic: We believe in our community and this is our way of giving back.

OCSA: You have taken very special care of the Ch Khalin, the OCSA Spokes Dog, can you tell us a little bit about the relationship you share with him? We love the “Khalin” shrine you have in your reception area!

From Shaggy to Chic: Khalin is a gentle, sweet boy, always trying to help us in his grooming process. We always look forward to his arrival.

OCSA: We know you take special care of all of the dogs that visit you but can you share your favorite “dog” story?

From Shaggy to Chic: Our favorite story is a Golden named Jake who would come in and lay on his back any chance he could. He obviously ate too many cookies at home. He would literally fall asleep while we were bathing him!

OCSA: What advice would you give Dog Owners on the “hair care” of their pets?

From Shaggy to Chic: The best advice we can offer is a regular schedule for grooming and no bathing in between unless the dog is brushed and combed thoroughly before putting them in the tub!

Meet OCSA Team Member: Melissa Rosner

With the OCSA Golf Outing coming up in July, we sat down with Melissa Rosner who will be running the silent auction for the event. Melissa has been an OCSA supporter for several years, is a committed Chicago Cubs fan and fellow animal lover. Keep reading to get to know Melissa, her personal connection to ovarian cancer and a sneak peek inside the silent auction for this year’s annual Golf Outing.

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OCSA:  How did you learn about OCSA?
I found out about OCSA by searching for local ovarian cancer awareness organizations. I was at a point in my life that I was happy and I wanted to give back and honor the memory of my cousin and others who have fought their brave battles with ovarian cancer.  I am so grateful for all the support we are being shown and I feel very privileged to be a part of OCSA.

OCSA: Can you tell us about your very personal connection to ovarian cancer?
My cousin Kelly Mulqueeny was diagnosed with stage 4 in the summer of 2008 while being treated for a gunshot wound that was inflicted while she was being mugged.  We came to view that as blessing in disguise. We were able to share two years with her until she succumbed to the cancer at age 40 in Aug 2010.  I’m happy that we got share in celebrating the Blackhawks Stanley Cup that year. She was a huge Hawks fan. Everyone who came to know her, loved her as she was so full of life and had a generous giving spirit. I miss her every day. My two daughters Alexandra and Abigail, close friends and my clients helped me out of my grief. I am very grateful for my boyfriend Scott Beck as he has been so supportive of me and my endeavors. I’m looking forward to when ovarian cancer doesn’t affect our wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, and friends anymore.

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OCSA: How long have you been a hairdresser? What do you like about your job?
I have been a hairstylist for over 28 years. I love my job! I am able to make people feel better about themselves.  My clients are family.  We share laughs, tears and some more laughs.  I’ve seen clients grow from birth, to graduating and starting families of their own. I feel so old sometimes! I have been able to help clients cope with various illnesses through my career as a stylist.  It’s amazing just how the value of touching someone, whether doing their hair or giving them a hug when you see them, matters to them and to me.     

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OCSA: We understand you are running the silent auction at the 4th Annual OCSA Golf Outing. Everyone wants to know…what are some of the items that have been donated?
I’m on the committee for the silent auction and the generosity being shown by our donors is awesome but not surprising. We have very caring business owners and partners in our vicinity. Some of the items we’re auctioning off include: a cooking class for six hosted by Chef Didier Durand at his private residence, custom artwork by Artbeat Live, an autographed baseball by Chicago Cubs Trevor Cahill, a basket for the Blackhawks fan, an overnight for two at the Hilton Chicago, two kid baskets for the budding chef in your family and much more.

OCSA: Tell us what you love about Chicago Baseball?
I’m a Chicago sports fanatic. I’ve been a Chicago Cubs fan since I was a kid even though my family hails from the south side. I love Cubs fans!  We have stuck by our Cubs all these years because they are like family.  We share good times and many years of bad times but we still had fun! We fans have stayed loyal even though we have had our fair share of haters and reasons to desert our team but there is no place on earth like Wrigley Field. It’s always a party and the view is awesome.  The energy at the games is like none other, even on opening day when we’re freezing our butts off. This year is proof that you never say never. Go Cubs Go!!!

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Meet OCSA Team Member: Beth Ciszek

OCSA is proud of the supportive community we have created the last few years. One of those wonderful members includes fellow dog lover, Beth Ciszek. Through her faith and kind heart, she has become a vital part of the OCSA team and we are thrilled to have her as the Presenting Sponsor for the 4th Annual OCSA Golf Outing. Keep reading to learn more about Beth and her relationship with OCSA.

Beth and Family

How did you learn about OCSA?
I initially learned about OCSA through Gateway Veterinary Clinic in St. Charles, IL. I have been taking my dogs to Dr. Kurt Klepitsch for years. Over the last few years I had noticed flyers at their reception desk and I had the opportunity to learn a little more at Gateway’s 30th anniversary party last summer.

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You and your husband have a strong commitment to the community and giving back.  What is the motivation behind that very kind support?
Our belief in God and tithing/giving.

Can you tell us about the Not-for-Profit that your father runs?
ECFA is an evangelical Christian social services agency. They provide many services, including adoption, pregnancy counseling and care, family and individual counseling, and child welfare services, which include intact family services and Safe Families for Children.

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You are the Managing Broker for Personal Touch Realty, Inc, can you tell us some of the challenges in the real estate market today?
Lower inventory of good quality updated homes at a reasonable price. These types of homes will come on the market and be gone before buyers get a chance to even look at them. Homes in a higher price range have a much lower pool of buyers so those homes are taking a bit longer to sell.

We are delighted that you are the Presenting Sponsor at the 4th Annual OCSA Golf Outing, what made you decide to do that?
At the end of last year or beginning of this year, I had the opportunity to have a long conversation with Vallie to learn more about the organization and this Silent Killer. I was invited to be part of their planning committee for the Golf Outing and as I met everyone involved and heard their stories, I was overwhelmed with the desire to do anything I could to help.

Tickets for the 4th Annual Golf Outing are now on sale. Visit our website for more information.