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A Son Honors His Mother’s Memory

Cancer doesn’t discriminate and it really doesn’t hit home until it happens to you or someone you love. Elan Grenman, owner of Elan’s, shared a very personal story of his mother’s journey in life that tragically ended in her death due to lung and brain cancer.

The bond between Elan and his mother, Sharona Fisher, started at birth. Elan was pronounced clinically dead as an infant. His mother yelled at the doctors and told them he was alive and to do whatever they needed to do to keep him that way. The doctors were able to bring him back to life. With tears in his eyes, Elan said that she always fought for him.

Elan grew up in Israel with his parents and one brother and two sisters. While his siblings would go outside and play, he was drawn to the kitchen and would often stay inside to watch and help his mother cook. This is when he developed his passion for cooking. Sharona opened six (6) restaurants all over the world. She would fly in, train, open and come home. No matter where she was, she made people feel happy with her smile and her wonderful food. Sharona was the best in the business.

When his mother retired, his family moved to the US in 2001. Elan was 24 years old and with his help, he purchased his first restaurant in Hot Springs called “South Beach”. He said, “No life experience or school would ever teach me what I learned from my mother”. His love for his mother and their relationship was beyond words.

In 2011, Elan noticed that his mother was having difficulty breathing and needed to rest while doing household chores. Reluctantly she went to the doctor and a CT scan revealed small skin tags growing on the inside of one of her lungs. The doctors said she was fine but scheduled a biopsy to rule out cancer. By the time she had the biopsy, the skin tags had doubled in size. Sharona didn’t smoke but she was exposed to chemicals when she served her country as a member of the Israeli army. She received a diagnosis of lung cancer and her treatment was several rounds of chemotherapy.

One day while Elan was working as the chef at Diamante, he received a call that his mother fell getting into the car. She was going for her second chemo treatment which had left her very weak and sick. Elan had great difficulty watching his mother go through all of this. It was then he made up his mind that he would never have chemo therapy and would never wish this disease or treatment on anyone. During her many chemo treatments, his mother wasn’t able to eat, tired easily and soon gave up her will to live.

While still undergoing her chemo treatments, Sharona was admitted to the hospital to have her gall bladder removed. It was then the doctors found cancer tumors in her brain. Elan and his family were told that most patients with aggressive lung cancer have a high probability of getting brain cancer. Sharona had brain surgery to remove the tumors and was released after four days to go home. She soon returned to the hospital and it was then that the doctors told the family to make her as comfortable as possible as the tumors had spread through her whole body.

As a kid, Elan’s biggest fear was about dying. Now here he was, watching his mother die. He was always scared because of what death meant, often afraid to close his eyes. He watched his mother fade away and felt anger about what was happening. He didn’t want to lose his mother this way. She gave him life, taught him how to smile, to love life and to put family first. Elan spent as much time with his mother as he could. One day, Elan kneeled next to his mother’s bed and put his head on her chest and cried for the first time in his life. His mother felt his presence and woke up. She rubbed his head and asked him why he was so sad. She smiled, and even chuckled, as she told Elan about all the people that were standing there, standing behind her son. Elan looked around only to find himself with his mother. Sharona was spiritual and felt peace. Elan was scared and didn’t want to be alone. His mother told him, ‘Don’t forget where you are from and who you are”. To this day, he can still picture her telling him those words. Everyone came to visit his mother. They moved her to hospice to control the pain. Soon she was at a point where she wouldn’t eat or drink anymore and was unresponsive.

Elan went home after seeing his mother, took a shower and looked up to the sky and said “What are you waiting on, she’s ready”. He told God that she didn’t deserve to suffer. Then it came to him. The spirit will never leave the body until the spirit is satisfied. He realized that his son had to say goodbye to his grandmother. Elan’s son went to his grandmother, stood by her bed and as he said goodbye, she woke up and talked to him. His son came out of the room and told his dad that everything was going to be ok. Sharona passed away that evening.

Elan was at work when he got the call. He was a huge ball of emotions; denial, sadness, grief, and anger and relief that she wasn’t suffering. His mother meant everything to him. That special bond that was there from the day he was born was broken. Sharona loved her family and children, especially her son, Elan. The day of her funeral was dark and gloomy. However, when his older sister was reading the eulogy and remembering her mother, a large ray of sunshine poured out from the sky and shone on his sister. She looked up and said, “Mom always has to be in the spotlight”. The people gasped and were stunned by what they saw.

Elan wiped tears from his eyes and said that it has been three years since his mother died but it feels like yesterday. She was an inspiration and he wanted her story and life to live on. Elan closed the restaurant that he opened with his mother in Hot Springs and took a year off. In 2007, he was hired at Diamante knowing he would open his own restaurant someday. That day happened on March 9, 2016 when he opened Elan’s. This was his dream and his mother’s dream for him to have his own restaurant. He has a couple of dishes on the menu that are his mother’s recipe, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Shrimp Scampi.

Elan’s family survived so much. The lived in Israel during the Gulf war and he can remember wearing gas masks with scud missiles bombing the city. Elan is still grieving. His father was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and his children keep telling him that he can’t shut down but fight because we are survivors. This is what we do. Right now he has anger and denial but knows that everything will be ok.

This is why we walk. This is why we raise money for cancer research. We know that cancer affects the lives of those we know and love. Please join us on Saturday, September 24th at 7:30 am at the Balboa Pavilion as we remember and honor those who have lost their lives to this hideous disease and celebrate the lives of the cancer survivors. This year our goal is to raise $50,000 for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

For more information and walker registration forms, please go to our website, or call Melanie Pederson at 501-915-8747 or email You can make a difference by helping us help others.

The fundraising for the 15th Annual Village WFCR has started!

Thanks from Matt's Family

A Personal Story of Courage

Matt Thomas, the son of both a 24-year resident of Hot Springs Village and a lifetime member of Diamante Country Club, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer that resists virtually every possible treatment. His prognosis was measured in mere months. Yes…Matt believed that he had reached the end of his life in the Winter of 2012. No more participation in his favorite charity, the Christian Motorcycle Association! No more fishing! And no more golf, although Matt played all of the Hot Springs Village golf courses at least once and vowed to beat every one of his previous scores!

Let's take a moment to learn a little more about Matt. Born in Dallas in 1954, Matt was only 58 years young when he received and shared his diagnosis with his wife, Sherry, of 39 years. Together, they broke this alarming news to their two children, Sam and Shawn; his sister, Debbie; and his mother, Jeane, and stepfather, John, of Hot Springs Village, among many others in his large and supportive family.

Matt was not one to give up or to give in! He bravely endured a long and challenging journey filled with aggressive brain surgery, followed by radiation therapy, and energy-sapping chemotherapy. Yet he surpassed all expectations and outdistanced every prognosis. When Jeane and John's Diamante family members learned about Matt's battle and his courageous and fighting attitude, they searched for some personal and meaningful way to support both Matt and his parents. For example, when they learned that his chemotherapy left a "disgusting" taste in his mouth, a Diamante member took up a collection and sent him dozens of TicTac® mints-enough for his truck, for his motorcycle, and for every room in his home. Another Diamante member, who has successfully battled stage IV melanoma for over 8 years-thanks to the support of UAMS physicians and health care providers, not to mention, many prayers-made a commitment to communicate with Matt on a frequent basis and to offer a daily prayer for strength-all of this from an individual who has "walked the walk."

After 3 years, Matt's medical team finally exhausted all treatment options, and Matt lost his battle in May 2015. When Diamante Country Club, both its members and its management team, learned of Matt's lost battle, they searched for the perfect and meaningful tribute that would not only support Matt's family, especially Jeane and John, but it would also be a tribute that would have a lasting, permanent, and positive impact. Yes…they thought about planting a tree or a flowering bush, but they soon arrived at a more perfect venue. The Diamante family decided that, in Matt's name, they would pool their energies and their monies in support in the Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, entitled "Imagine a Future Without Cancer."

The Diamante members and management staff have formed the Marching for MATT team and have assembled over 50 walkers…and they are still counting! Along with many Diamante friends and neighbors, this team will include Matt's wife, Sherry; his son, Sam; and two granddaughters, Ava and Linden, traveling to Hot Springs Village from Florida and Arizona. It is important to note that every dollar donated to this event will go to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation at the University of Medical Sciences (UAMS), which is the vanguard of advancing and unlocking the amazing abilities of immunotherapy and gene-targeted therapies! The fact that all donations directly support cancer cell and gene therapy research, along with the promise of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer, the decision to support the Annual Village Walk was a very easy one to make.

The Cancer Institute's approach is a simple one-discovery in the laboratory, development of new treatment strategies, and delivery of these new strategies to their clinics. The research goals are accomplished through focused programs, shared resources, and disease-specific sciences. Simply stated, research moves from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside. The bottom line for patients is that cancer research fuels innovative treatment options and seeks to transform cancer from a harrowing disease into a manageable diagnosis!

The Marching for MATT team, along with all of the participants of this year's Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, encourages you to join in the commitment to reduce "cancer incidence, mortality, and morbidity in Arkansas and the surrounding region" ( The 14th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research is on Saturday, September 26, 2015 starting at 7:30 am at the Cortez Pavilion in HSV. You can register to walk up until the day of the walk. For more information, please visit or contact Melanie Pederson at If you wish to join the Marching for MATT team, please contact Dana Peick at

Peterson takes quick action after cancer diagnosis
(This article was in the Village Voice, August 14, 2012)

Bill Lefler and Bruce Peterson

As the date of the Village Walk for Cancer Research nears, the stories of those affected by cancer seem to increase. Some of the stories are heart wrenching and some, like the one below, give us hope.

Bruce Peterson, a Village resident, went to his doctor last August for a routine check-up. While there, Peterson mentioned that one of his tonsils seemed swollen. "It wasn't causing any pain but something just felt different about it. The doctor took one look and said the tonsil was oddly shaped. He was concerned it might be cancerous so he sent me to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for an evaluation and biopsy," Peterson said.

A week later, Peterson and his wife, Julie, sat in the doctor's office and patiently waited for him to reveal the results of the biopsy. The doctor told him he had a malignant cancer and it was at Stage 4. Peterson remembers the doctor rambling on about the high success rate with head and neck cancer and various treatment options. "All of this information was coming at me. I thought I was hearing it, but in reality it was just a blur. All I was thinking about was mortality. I immediately felt my heart falling into my chest. I had to remind myself to breathe. I knew the color must have drained from my face because of the way the doctor was looking at me. I left the doctor's office that day not sure if I was going to live or die," Peterson said, remembering.

Over the next few days, Peterson met with an oncologist in Hot Springs who scheduled a CT Scan, PET Scan, and several other tests. The results of the biopsy and tests revealed he had an invasive squamous cell carcinoma with both tonsils and several lymph nodes involved. The oncologist immediately set up a treatment plan for Peterson which would require two months of chemotherapy, 35 treatments of radiation, and then surgery to remove his tonsils and several of his lymph nodes.

Word of Peterson's diagnosis spread to members of Village United Methodist Church (VUMC), where he was a member and was employed as facility manager. Most affected by the news, was HSV dentist and retired Army Major Gen. Bill Lefler, also a member of the church. "Bill was my dentist but our relationship was not just 'in the chair'. We have known each other for many years. Bill and I have taught classes together, played music together and performed in many venues. I trusted his opinion on many things. So, when 'The Old General' called me aside and said he wanted me to get a second opinion, I could not refuse. He told me he wanted to try and get me in to see a specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He had some good experiences with UAMS in the past and had a lot of faith in their abilities.

Thanks to Lefler, Peterson was able to get in to see Dr. James Suen, a head and neck surgeon and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at UAMS. Peterson remembers that first visit: "For weeks prior to seeing Dr. Suen, I had been meeting with doctors that just walked into the room and sat down in front of a computer. I felt like a third party in the room. But, when Dr. Suen came in, he sat down and actually talked to me! He took time to examine me and answer my questions. Julie and I both felt very comfortable with him. Dr. Suen recommended a treatment plan that made more sense to us. His reputation in head and neck oncology is among the best in the country," stated Peterson. "Before I left his office that day, Dr. Suen gave me his personal phone number and told me to call him if I needed anything. I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had full confidence in Dr. Suen's treatment plan for me. It would not take as long and the prognosis looked better. My life turned around that day. I was being treated at the Hilton of hospitals. I had the love and support of friends and family, a wife that had pledged to be by my side during this ordeal and, most of all, I had a strong faith that God would answer the multitude of prayers lifted up on my behalf," Peterson said.

Prior to starting his cancer treatment, Peterson had his hair cut off. He donated his infamous pony tail to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Then, as recommended, he went to see his dentist. Radiation can accelerate any tooth decay or dental problems that already exist. Lefler got Peterson in right away and took care of the few dental repairs he needed. He also made a fluoride tray for Peterson to wear at night which would help strengthen Peterson's teeth while he went through treatment.

Peterson went through nearly seven-weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment was so successful that he did not need surgery. He lost weight but not any hair, much to his delight. "With any kind of radiation to the mouth or throat there is a problem with blistering, sores and burning in the region of the mouth and throat. But, UAMS, being a research facility, was able to get me into a clinical trial which used a drug designed to reduce or eliminate this condition. I would not have been able to get this at any other place in Arkansas," Peterson said.

Peterson has been cancer free since January. "It was faith that helped me get through this ordeal. You have to have faith in your friends and family. You have to believe in your doctors and the medical community. But, foremost, you have to believe that there is a higher power that is going to either get you through this or bring you home. I chose to put my trust in God," Peter said, emphatically.

Peterson continues to see his doctor regularly. He is back to work, riding his bike, and playing his bass guitar in the Higher Ground band, something he loves to do. He has done a lot of reading this past year, mainly about cancer, and has become knowledgeable about oral cancer, in particular. One thing he learned was that many oral cancers are discovered by dentists because they see and work inside the patient's mouth. That is one reason everyone should see their dentist at least once a year. He also learned that men are diagnosed with tonsil cancer 3 to 4 times more often than women and generally at age 50 or older. The most significant risk factors for tonsil cancer are tobacco and alcohol use.

Through the efforts of the Village Walk for Cancer Research, money is being raised for cancer research at UAMS. All funds raised from this event will remain in Arkansas, something that is unique to this cancer fundraiser. The 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 7:30 a.m. at Cortez Pavilion. Many of the local businesses in the community have donated prizes for the benefit drawing which will be held the day of the Walk. You do not have to be present to win. Stop by the entrance to Wal-Mart (Hwy7), Saturday, Aug. 18, from 8 a.m. to noon to purchase benefit drawing tickets or to register for the Walk. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. Registration is $25 ($30 after Aug. 15) and includes a T-shirt. You can honor a friend or loved one by having their name added to the back of the T-shirt for an additional $15 (deadline Aug. 15). Registration forms are available on the WFCR website at or at many area churches. If you are unable to attend the Walk but still want to make a contribution, donations can be sent to: Village Walk for Cancer Research, P.O. Box 8412, Hot Springs Village, AR 71910-8412. Checks should be made out to Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Any amount sent, is greatly appreciated. For more information, contact Melanie Pederson at 501-915-8747 or email

Engquist passionate about cancer walk for personal reasons
JEFF SMITH The Sentinel-Record. This article appeared July 31, 2012

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE - Engquist has been working the Village Walk for Cancer Research from the ground floor over a decade ago. She has been passionate about raising funds for cancer research, all of which go to UAMS in Little Rock, hut her drive became more personal six years ago when she became a breast cancer survivor.

"We started at the Balboa Pavilion before eventually moving it to the Cortez Pavilion. I was one of the pioneers, and with each year that went by, we decided to pro­ mote it heavier and make it bigger and bigger," Engquist explained.

Engquist lost her husband to cancer 16 years ago, and her mother had breast cancer, "so it was no surprise to me when I was diagnosed. It just made me want to work harder to help raise funds for research at UAMS. I have been very fortunate that I have made it beyond five years. My doctor told. me there was no need to stay on my medicine, but that's my security blanket. I have to keep going and do what I can for the cause."

One of her biggest contributions in fund raising was through First Electric, which supplies utilities to Village residents living in Saline County. She helped start Operation Roundup, in which customers can round up the cost of their electric bill to the nearest dollar with the change going to the Village Walk for Cancer Research.

"That comes in quite handy, and it has helped us generate about $1,000 every year since we began it," she said.

Those on the committee grad­ ually increase the goal of funds raised every year, and part of the money, aside from pledges and do­ nations, comes from the sale of tickets to win door prizes that have been donated by scores of area merchants.

"We have a lot of great prizes this year, and selling tickets has become one of my biggest contributions to the cause since I've slowed down a bit. They are $1 each or six for $5. We raise over $1,000 each year through this, and the merchants who have worked with us on this are wonderful. We have over 75 prizes to draw for now, including movie tickets, restaurant gift certificates, free golf rounds, oil changes and a whole lot more," she said.

Engquist is also proud of the Jessieville and Fountain Lake schools, who have put together teams in recent years to participate in the walk.

"Through the school teams and other organizations, the walk participants continue to grow every year. We have liquids and fruits for the walkers first thing that morning, and Re/Max serves hot dogs and hamburgers to the walkers once they are through. It is definitely a team effort," Engquist said.

The Village Walk for Cancer Research takes place Sept. 29, at 7:30 a.m., starting at the Cortez Pavilion and going down the Hernando Trail.

"Come join the fun," she concluded.

MacNeills active in raising funds for cancer research
This article appeared in the Village Voice

Photographs of doctors, cancer patients, and benefactors who have made a difference in the fight against cancer grace the walls of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Among them hangs a picture of Ken and Claire MacNeill, residents of Hot Springs Village. The MacNeills were recognized for their untiring dedication to raise funds for cancer research at UAMS through the Village Walk for Cancer Research (WFCR). Since 2005, they have been actively involved in the Walk and have helped in almost every area, from chairing the committee to planning, speaking, organizing, and fundraising for it. Since its inception in 2002, the WFCR has raised over $100,000 to help benefit cancer research at UAMS.

The MacNeills said they have seen many changes take place since they have been involved in the Walk. "Fewer people participated back then, but last year we had 638 walkers that came out to support this event. In the early years of the Walk, the primary focus was on breast cancer awareness and research. Now, the focus is on research for all types of cancer. Back then, our committee was entirely made up of women and now we have several men that serve on it. I think that's because we changed our focus to include all types of cancer. Since those early years, we've added student participation, live music, a bake sale, free food, a benefit drawing and silent auction. Local churches, schools, organizations and clubs have gotten involved and have organized to walk as a group to raise funds for cancer research," MacNeill said. "This year, group pictures will be taken at the walk ? another first!"

Claire MacNeill attributes her ability to work so diligently for the WFCR to her husband, Ken. "He has been my go-to-person since we became involved in the Walk in 2005. He has also been the "fundraiser" for the WFCR for years. In my opinion, fundraising is one of the most difficult jobs on the committee. Each year, Ken has managed to increase monetary donations, retain past sponsors and involve new ones. No matter what comes up, whether it is selling benefit drawing tickets at the Farmer's Market and Wal-Mart, or helping to set up our booth at an event, Ken does whatever is needed to get the job done. Last year, he built a rocking horse that took many hours to complete and then donated it to the WFCR silent auction. So many people wanted to buy it, that a bidding war ensued!" MacNeill laughed.

The MacNeills agree that without the unwavering support of the community, the WFCR would not take place. Many businesses, organizations, volunteers, sponsors, donors, and walkers, have given generously to the WFCR over the years ? loyal supporters who are on a mission to help eradicate cancer.

Talk to the doctors at UAMS and they'll tell you that research generated from funds raised at the WFCR have made a difference. Last year, over $30,000 was raised thanks to the generosity of the community. That amount climbed to over $50,000 with In-Kind contributions. Every penny raised stayed in Arkansas and was used for cancer research at UAMS. Several doctors from UAMS have shown their support for the WFCR by participating on the day of the event. Several of them have traveled to the Village to give free presentations on the latest cancer research being done at UAMS or to share information about their area of expertise.

Imagine a future without cancer. The MacNeills have! Since they lost their daughter, Kerrie, to cancer in 2004 they have continued to work tirelessly to raise money for cancer research through the WFCR. Their daughter's death motivated them to make a difference and they have. "The ability to take a tragic situation and find a way to apply that toward helping someone else can be very therapeutic," said Claire MacNeill. "It feels good to do it."

Like the MacNeills, you can make a difference, too. Register to walk at the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, held Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Cortez Pavilion in Hot Springs Village. Registration is $25 ($30 after Aug. 15) and includes a T-shirt. You can honor a friend or loved one by having their name added to the back of the T-shirt for an additional $15 (deadline Aug. 15). Registration forms are available on the WFCR website at or at many area churches. If you are unable to attend the Walk but still want to make a contribution, donations can be sent to: Village Walk for Cancer Research, P.O. Box 8412, Hot Springs Village, AR 71910-8412. Checks should be made out to Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. For more information, contact Melanie Pederson at 501-915-8747 or email

Village Walk for Cancer sets $35,000 goal
(This article was in the Village Voice, July 25, 2012)

Rotarian and civic leader Donna Aylward spoke to the Hot Springs Village Rotary Club at its regular breakfast meeting last week on plans for this year's Village Walk for Cancer Research.

The walk will begin at 7:30 a.m., Sept. 29 at Cortez Pavilion and with proceeds . going for cancer research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Center at UAMS.

Last year's walk raised $34,000 and the goal this year is $35,000, Aylward said.

She said all proceeds are committed to research, and noted that previous efforts have resulted in a 67 percent increase in the cancer survival rate.

Melanie Peterson is the new chair for the event. She is a cancer survivor and "has the passion to take the fund raiser to a new level, " Aylward said.

The walk will be followed by "lunch" at 9:30 a.m. Lunch this year will be more "breakfast-like", said grill master Jeff Hollansworth.

Harmon shows one man can make a difference in the fight against cancer (This article was in the Sentinel-Record, July 20, 2012)

One man can make a difference. Emery Harmon is proof of that! Last year, Harmon helped raise funds for the 10th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research in an unprecedented way ? he contacted every person he knew and asked them to contribute to this cause. An excerpt from the letter he sent to his family, friends, and business associates said the following:

"Having lost three brothers and two sisters-in-law to cancer, and having cancer surgery myself last fall, I feel a need to participate in the fight against cancer in a significant manner. I have established a personal goal of raising $3,000 in contributions for this event. The walk of 5 miles is not a big deal, but the research that will result from the funds raised, definitely is! If you can help to support this effort, I will be very grateful."

Through his efforts, Harmon raised over $1800 for cancer research. He was even astounded by the response he received! "Besides family and friends, members of the Angler's Club I belong to, also sent in donations. Even my doctors sent in a contribution!" Harmon said, beaming.

Claire MacNeill, chair of the 2010 WFCR, remembers the day Harmon brought her the envelope stuffed with donations he had received in response to the letters he sent. "I was at the church distributing t-shirts to those that had signed-up to walk at our event. A man walked in and asked to speak to me. I thought he was looking for his t-shirt, but instead he handed me an envelope stuffed with over thirty-checks. He said he felt like he needed to do something to help in the fight against cancer and wanted to play a part in finding a cure." MacNeill said. "I didn't know what to say. I was astounded and grateful all at the same time!"

Harmon, and his wife Jerri, also registered to walk at the 10th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research. "I carried a piece of paper with me with the names of those who were honored and remembered by those who contributed. I thought of them often as I walked that day. I also thought about those I had also worked to raise money for ? our children and grandchildren. I hope they'll never have to suffer the pain or loss that cancer brings," said Harmon.

Harmon was diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor during a routine colonoscopy in 2010. He went through cancer treatment and surgery at MD Anderson in Houston and is now in remission. "Men especially tend to steer away from routine colonoscopies but the benefits out way the slight unpleasantness they experience. I had no symptoms of the colon cancer I had. Left undiagnosed and untreated, I could have died," Harmon said.

Almost daily, Harmon walks the trails in the Village. Sometimes he has the trail to himself and enjoys those special, quiet times. "I often reflect on what I'm most appreciative of and the things I have ? my family, friends and health. I feel like I'm the luckiest man alive!" Harmon said, with a smile.

Have you registered to walk at the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research? If not, please consider helping in the fight against cancer by joining us at this year's Walk. All proceeds go directly to UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute to benefit cancer research. What is different about this fundraiser is all funds raised stay right here in Arkansas! Registration forms are available on-line at and at churches in the Village. The Walk will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Cortez Pavilion. One misconception, that you have to actually walk at this event, is untrue! Many are not physically able to do so, and we understand that. You can sit in a chair, and still contribute and support the battle against cancer. Sit under a shaded pavilion, enjoy the music, presentations, silent auction, benefit drawing, food, and fellowship of others. Last year, there were many who could not walk, including several cancer patients. We brought them food, prayers, hugs and companionship. For those of you that are organizing to walk in a group, such as, church groups, societies, youth groups, clubs, neighborhoods, and scout troops, we will be taking group pictures this year. Thank you to the groups who have walked in the past and raised funds and awareness for cancer research. You can also help by becoming a sponsor or donor. We are in need of items for our benefit drawing and silent auction and are still seeking sponsors.

Registration for the Walk is $25 and includes a t-shirt with names of our sponsors and those being honored/remembered in their fight against cancer. Do you know someone who currently has cancer, had cancer, or lost their life to cancer? Would you like to honor them in a special way? Over 600 people wore the Village Walk for Cancer Research t-shirts last year with the names of over 100 people being honored or remembered. For an extra $15, you can do just that. Please note the name of the person(s) you would like to honor on your registration form and include an extra $15 for each name with your registration fee. The deadline for receiving names to be printed is August 15.

For more information about the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, contact Melanie Pederson, at (H) 501-915-8747 or © 608-692-0458 or email her at

Optimist April 17, 2012-Regular & Board Meetings-Club News and Minutes.

Guest Speakers: Our guest speakers, Donna Aylwood and Melanie Pederson spoke and showed a slide presentation of the 11th Annual Village Cancer Research Walk. Donna stated that cancer is the second killer following heart disease. Donna said the Walk’s Mission is to raise funds for the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Vision is to see children, women and men saved through a cure and their Goal is to raise $35,000 with 750 walkers. Sign-up brochures were passed out to all; registration fee is $25 by Aug. 15th. A question and answer period followed the talk and Melanie can be called at 915-8747 for a registration form. The Walk will be Saturday, Sept. 29th rain or shine at 7:30 a.m. at the Cortez pavilion were free food will be served. Walk five miles or a few feet, as you are able. Web site:

Hats for the UAMS Cancer Institute's Wig and Hat Shop.

Three women from Faith Lutheran Church, Hot Springs Village, have been busy knitting hats for the UAMS Cancer Institute's Wig and Hat Shop. The hats, knit by Peggy McKinnon, Beverly Denman, and Jackie Wolff, were 'blessed' at the Ladies Guild spring prayer luncheon held Monday, May 21, at Faith Lutheran Church. Invited guest, Melanie Pederson, chair of the village walk for cancer research was there to receive them. Pederson was touched by the love and thought that went into making these. "They not only knit the hats but they also embellished them with flowers. The hats were knit in various shades of pink and they used a very soft yarn to make them. I kept touching the hats and couldn't get over how soft they felt. Cancer patients who receive these will really appreciate that!" Pederson said.

Pederson and the WFCR team visited the Wig and Hat Shop at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in March. They were there to hand-deliver wigs that belonged to cancer patient Pat Buller, a Village resident that died in January. Miranda Morris, patient support center health educator who supervises the Wig and Hat Shop, was grateful for the donation and informed the WFCR team of the need for wigs and knit or crocheted hats. The Cancer Institute offers a free wig and hat to each cancer patient; because of that, their supply often gets low. If you would like to knit or crochet hats for cancer patients at UAMS, hat patterns can be found on the UAMS website at Whether you are an individual or a group that likes to knit or crochet, please consider helping with this worthwhile cause. Contact the Patient Support Pavilion at the Cancer Institute at 501-686-5578 to have wigs or hats picked up or contact Melanie Pederson at 501-915-8747 or email

Want to know how else you can help? Become a sponsor, donor, volunteer or register to walk at the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research held on Saturday, Sept. 29, 7:30 a.m. to noon, at the Cortez Pavilion in Hot Springs Village. All funds raised from this event stay in Arkansas and benefit cancer research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute UAMS. For more information or to download a registration form, visit the website at Imagine a future without cancer! You can make a difference.

Hot Springs Village Business Expo 2012.

Melanie Pederson, chair of the 11th annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, was glad her committee decided to have a booth at the HSV area Chamber of Commerce business expo. It was the first time they had done so. Since the purpose of the WFCR is to raise funds to benefit cancer research at UAMS, any money spent is weighed heavily by the committee. It was Cindy Wagstaff, executive director of HSV area Chamber of Commerce that convinced them that this would be money well-spent. Wagstaff showed the committee the different price options for a booth. Even at the lowest price, Wagstaff shared, there would still be good exposure for the WFCR booth. Catherine Tapp, director of special events at UAMS, agreed. She felt having a booth at the expo was a powerful marketing tool. Tapp, who attends and hosts many of the WFCR committee meetings, spent the day at the expo and assisted Pederson at the WFCR booth.

Pederson and Tapp were pleased with the steady flow of traffic they had at their booth. Sixty-eight people stopped to learn about the Walk for Cancer and register for the door prize, a Never Lose Spirit glass sculpture by Pine Bluff artist, James Hayes and two complimentary walker registrations. Joan Hardt, a Village resident, won the door prize. Several people registered that day for the Walk, and several committee members visited with the sponsors and donors. In addition, over $30 in tickets for the Sept. 29 WFCR benefit drawing, held the day of the Walk, were sold. Along with Tapp and Pederson, Claire MacNeill and Dorothy Bard assisted at the booth that day.

Pederson believes that the business expo provided a wonderful opportunity to network with others and let the community know more about the Village Walk for Cancer Research, held this year on Sept. 29, 7:30 a.m. to noon, at the Cortez Pavilion in Hot Springs Village. All funds raised are restricted entirely for research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS ? something most people don't realize. Pederson said her committee has already voted to have a booth at the business expo next year. "This was money well spent," Pederson said with a smile.

For more information about the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, contact WFCR chair, Melanie Pederson at 915-8747 or by e-mail at, or visit the website at

UAMS Hospice and Palliative Care Director to speak at Christ of the Hills UMC

Facing a serious illness can be a frightening experience. Many do not understand their condition or choices for care. Some need relief from pain; others struggle to tolerate their medical treatments. Palliative care is the medical specialty which focuses on improving the quality of life of people suffering from a serious illness. Most people are familiar with the scope of hospice which deals primarily with end-of-life care but know little about palliative care. Dr. Sarah Beth Harrington, UAMS Hospice and Palliative Care Director, hopes to change that. "If I had a wish, it would be that we lived in a world where the often-blurred distinction between hospice and palliative care would be well-defined and common knowledge," Harrington said.

The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and to provide some quality of life for those facing pain or illness. Palliative care helps patients understand their condition and choices for care, improve their ability to tolerate medical treatment, and help them be able to carry on with everyday life. That is what the Palliative Care Program at UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is all about ?focusing on the improvement and quality of life for patients and families facing serious illness.

Harrington will be the guest speaker at Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church, 700 Balearic Road in Hot Springs Village, on Wednesday, May 2, at 6:30 p.m. She will give a presentation on palliative care and provide information on the palliative care program at UAMS. There will be a question and answer session at the conclusion of her presentation.

A graduate of the UAMS College of Medicine, Harrington completed her residency and palliative care fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. She joined the faculty at UAMS in 2008. She is the author of multiple publications. Her work has been published in numerous medical journals, including The Journal of the American Medical Association. Harrington's clinical interests include cancer pain and symptom management, medical ethics, end-of-life care, and medical education.

This event is free to the public. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about palliative care and to meet and speak with Dr. Harrington in person.

For more information, contact Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church at 501-922-4503.

Gift will transform image, help restore lives

Hair is a big deal. Whether we cut it, curl it, tease it, or straighten it - our hair identifies us. That’s why loss of hair is so devastating, especially to a cancer patient.

Hair loss is a common side-effect in patients receiving radiation and chemotherapy. Chemo works by killing cancer cells. But healthy fast-growing cells, such as those in the hair roots, are often destroyed too. The type and dosage of chemotherapy a patient receives usually determines if there will be hair loss. Sometimes there is none. But for those that lose some or all of their hair, it is usually just temporary. Hair usually grows back following treatment.

Adjusting to their new appearance after hair loss can be traumatic for the patient. Many experience anxiety and depression. A temporary solution for many is to wear a wig, hand-knitted hat or turban-style hat to hide the bald spots. By doing so, their image is transformed and their self-esteem restored.

Pat Buller was a living testimony to that. She loved wigs! As a cancer patient, she purchased an assortment of wigs - one for each day of the week it seemed! Some were curly; some straight. She owned one with red hair and one with blonde. She even had one with dreadlocks! Buller, who lost her battle to cancer in January 2012, knew how important a change of image was. She must have, because she changed hers almost every day! Buller’s sister, Marge Tinsley said, “No one knew what to expect or how Pat would look when she showed up. Even though she was dying, she wanted every day to be fun. There was nothing she loved better than to make people laugh.”

 Buller, in her final days, requested that her collection of wigs be given to a cancer treatment center. She wanted other women to enjoy her wigs as much as she had.  Tinsley’s close friend, Flavia Bigham contacted the Village Walk for Cancer Research (VWCR) committee and asked them to find a home for Buller’s wigs. And, they did! The next week the committee members hand-delivered the wigs to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.  There they will be cleaned, styled, and placed in the Wig and Hat Shop located in the Patient Support Pavilion in the Cancer Institute. The shop is located in a quiet alcove where patients can try on a variety of different styles of wigs and hats in privacy.

Miranda Morris, patient support center health educator who supervises the Wig and Hat Shop, was grateful for the donation of wigs. Morris said wigs can be costly to purchase. Made from synthetic material, human hair, and sometimes a combination of both, wigs can cost anywhere from under a hundred dollars to over a thousand. The Cancer Institute offers a free wig and hat to each patient. Because of this, donations are greatly appreciated.  If you knit or crochet or are part of a group that does, please consider making hats to donate. Hat patterns can be found on the UAMS website at   Contact the Patient Support Pavilion at 501-686-5578 to have hats picked up.

You can also help by joining us in the fight against cancer at the 11th Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, Saturday, Sept. 29, 7:30 a.m. to noon, at the Cortez Pavilion in Hot Springs Village. All funds raised stay in Arkansas to benefit cancer research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute UAMS. For more information, visit or contact Melanie Pederson 501-915-8747 or email