"My name is Jann Grace, I’m 75 years of age and a cancer survivor. Growing up, I loved being out in the sun so I could get a deep, dark California girl tan. Growing up in MI, there wasn’t enough sun so I started using tanning beds. Oh, yes, for 30 glorious years I faithfully tanned and enjoyed my CA look despite the lectures from my OB GYN not to use tanning beds. I was in my mid 40’s and didn’t have a dermatologist yet."
Jann moved to HSV after 30 years in Texas where she played golf and any outdoor sport you can imagine. After reaching the 60 year milestone, Jann noticed a couple dark spots on her body and was told to get them check out. The dark spots on her back were melanoma and a couple of years later another melanoma appeared on her forearm. Thanks to a wonderful dermatologist and aggressive treatment, she is now melanoma free! Jann decided she had to behave and hasn’t set foot in a tanning bed since. However, she still continued spending several hours a day outdoors pursuing golf and other sports.
In 2010, Jann found a lump in her left breast and didn’t think anything of it since a previous lumpectomy was benign. This one wasn’t. Her doctor and radiologist asked to speak with her and point blank she asked her doctor if he was going the say the “C” word and he said “yes”.
After surgery, Jann learned the tumor affected 38 lymph nodes which were taken out. Jann was left with a “dead” arm since then. In 2021, Jann woke up with a ‘blown-up arm’ and knew it was lymphedema. Most patients who have lymph nodes removed get lymphedema within the first year of having their lymph nodes removed. Not Jann! Her body decided to wait TEN years before this happened. Jann can still do most things with the affected left arm including playing pickleball, golf and household chores and cooking! It is just a very heavy arm that Jann wears in a compression sleeve to help with swelling.
Jann received chemotherapy and radiation at MD Anderson in TX. She was able to select her own doctors, including a breast specialist and a well-known surgeon and his working partner. Her radiologist was in partnership with these two doctors to make it a 3-partnership for all her treatments. Grace noted her health insurance enabled me to do this. This trio saved my life yet again. Grace woke up one morning with the words “double chemo” and presented it to the specialists and they investigated her background, genes, health history, and found she qualified for a clinical trial that required blood work done every Monday to measure her white blood cell count read and, if good, she could continue with treatment. Grace maintained her physical health through all this and passed the weekly blood test. Jann was a healthy woman with cancer! She received chemotherapy for 6 months followed by radiation for 7 weeks, but she did it and thanks God every day for being cancer free.
Skin cancer runs in Jann’s family, her father, brother, and uncle have had skin cancer. Jan continues to get checked every six months for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer. Jan would not wish any cancer on anyone. Skin cancer is more serious than most people think it is and she hopes people will think twice about the consequences of being sun beautiful!
This moving tribute, excerpted here, was written by Anne and Rob's daughter Katie Hodak.
My mom died 4 months ago.
Life can certainly be absolutely befuddling at times. Although I still cannot find the words to describe the life force of my mom, there are a few things that keep coming into my thoughts. She was unique. She made life rich for those around her. She was strong. She was the second of eight children growing up in south St Louis. She was a hell raiser in Catholic school and was always getting in trouble. She was set up with my dad for a Greek weekend, and when I asked him what he thought of her, he said, “well, I thought she was quite a character.” Turns out he was right. See, she never bemoaned herself, in fact, I’m not sure most people would have known that she was ever sick or in pain. She was strong as steal which made watching her fade away even more heart breaking. That strong, robust, vivacious “life of the party” rapidly got chiseled away by cancer.
My mom told me about her cancer diagnosis about 16 years ago by saying “so the funny thing is that I have breast cancer.” Always with a sense of humor. She was not one to feel sorry for herself. Not ever. She was in remission from HR+ HER2- lobular stage 3 breast cancer for over 15 years. It wasn’t until a year ago that she broke her clavicle bone turning over in bed and lost all energy that we discovered it had metastasized to her bones, significantly. Last March, we thought it was over. She could barely walk from one chair to the next. But we were wrong. Her PET scan in May indicated the bone cancer was practically squelched. She graduated to oral chemo with occasional IV chemo maintenance. And those last 9 months were amazing. She had an incredible summer and fall, enjoying her friends, family, and neighbors, perhaps like never before. We visited her in Arkansas, arriving to a giant bounce house hoisted up in the front yard. We had a great visit.
It was just before New Year’s that she started to feel pain in her stomach and nausea, and she got the news that the cancer had spread to her liver on a Tuesday. She agreed to schedule a liver biopsy the following Friday to determine if there were any specific treatments available. She was a realist, and she was so smart, but I think the speed of this cancer took even her by surprise. My mom was supposed to live forever. But that was not reality. The reality was that the strong chemo on Tuesday likely retracted tumors lining her stomach, causing a perforation that was painful and sudden. There was no way of suspecting how aggressive the cancer had been. The surgeon addressed the immediate perforation on Friday, but he knew she would never leave the hospital. The cancer had virtually consumed her liver and peritoneum entirely. We (and she) did not know that at the time, and probably for the best.
The hardest part of watching her fall still was watching my dad’s heart break multiple times a day. The other hardest part was knowing that my kids deserve so much more of a grand mommy like her.
The day she died, we had seen both the surgeon and her oncologist. Her oncologist walked in the door with welled up tears; I gave him a hug and thanked him for those last really good 9 months. I thanked him for sending my parents into the hospital on Friday so that I could get to say goodbye. He said he will always remember mom’s “positive thinking” as he pointed to those words on her chemo blanket laying on her lap. After I belabored and confirmed (yet again) exactly where the cancer spread and how aggressive and insidious it had been, dad and I felt a bit more resolve. There was nothing wrong with having been hopeful, there was no way of knowing how extensive the cancer was, and now there was just sadness. Her strong and amazing spirit had a beautiful send off. We prayed, we listened to music, we sat together, we reminisced. She wasn’t alone, she was in our arms then and in your hearts now, and she will stay that way forever. It is my hope that she is gabbing away, eating Italian cream cake and taffy, hitting holes in 1, quilting the authentic beauty of the world and knowing that she was loved fiercely…as much as she fiercely loved.
Help us honor Anne's memory by joining us at the 21st Annual Village Walk for Cancer Research on Saturday, September 24 at the Balboa Pavilion. The opening ceremony starts at 8 am. All who register will receive a free T-shirt and can participate by walking, kayaking, or biking up to five miles at your own pace.
Winona Anderson, Joanie Barrow, Nancy S. Belair, Diane Bielanski, Laurie Boor, Cora Burch, Sue Carlson, Tommny Cart, Karen Coe, Ned Cole, Melissa Conway, Nancy Paulis Crews, Rebekah Crowley, Rachel Crowley, Charley Derryberry, Jim Gifford, Noelia Gutierrez, Catherine Harvey, Christy Heath, Carol Horstman, Bill Horstman, Jeanine Jacobsen, Donna C.Jones, Sheila Jones, Jane Kerby, Mary Beth Kovanen, David Knoernschild, Jenne Larsen, Terry lee, Maris Liepins, Ken MacNeill, Christine Martinez, Melanie Pederson, Greg Pederson, John Prince, Dot Ramsey, Patricia Raney, Chris Stein, Mary Szczepaniak, Debra Tucker, Nancy Webb, Connie Weidert, Diana Whitlow, Graham Williamson
There are times in your life when simple words can change your life. For me it was “you have cancer”. The first time I heard those words, I was diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer which resulted in Mohs surgery to successfully remove the cancer from my right nostril. With a little help from a plastic surgeon and 40 stitches later, the hole was closed. The second time was in October 2008. I was sitting in my surgeon’s office after a third biopsy in four years. While cancer was a strong possibility, it didn’t become real until I heard him tell me the biopsy confirmed cancer. I felt devasted. My first thoughts were of my granddaughter, Jordan, who I had taken a leave from work to be with at Children’s Hospital during the day as my daughter was working second shift at the time. Jordan was born on July 22nd and diagnosed with a Vein of Galen Malformation (VOGM), a rare type of vascular malformation of the brain that develops before birth and spent the first 4 ½ months of her life in the hospital.
I went through genetic testing and found no history of cancer in my family at that time. However, my mother died of lung cancer (smoker her adult life) and my father died of complications from prostate cancer and dementia. My sister, Christine, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and is remission. So much for genetic testing. Based on the size of the tumor and the fact my cancer wasn’t invasive, my choice was a bilateral mastectomy as I didn’t want the stress of wondering if the cancer would appear in the other breast. My surgery was on October 26th at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison WI. My husband, Greg, came up from HSV to be with me at the hospital and to help care for me. The nurses were wonderful and told me what to expect when I looked at myself in the mirror with the stitches and ports sticking out of my body. I saw my ‘new normal’ and learned how to empty my drains and care for myself. On our way home, we stopped at Children’s to visit Jordan. I remember being in the elevator with drains in both pockets holding Taco Bell for my daughter when a woman who told me she was a breast cancer survivor of 15 years, offered to help hold the food which felt incredibly heavy. But I got to see my daughter, hold my precious Jordan with my husband at my side. I spoke with my son and family. Life was good.
An unexpected call from my doctor in November brought tears to my eyes when he recommended another surgery due to unclear margins. This time it was a day surgery that required another drain, and I was told not to lift anything over 10 pounds. Jordan weighed 12 pounds at the time. My husband, sister and sister-in-law came up to help with Jordan while I recovered. A week later, the results were inconclusive. I went through 9 weeks of radiation, five days a week and am now considered ‘cancer free’ after five years of follow-up. I truly feel blessed.
I tell people that I am a ‘professional volunteer’ and volunteer in the community, church and help my family as needed. As the oldest of eight children, I learned to be a caregiver, to do what needs to be done and developed a work ethic that has stayed with me. In 2010, I attended my first Village Walk for Cancer Research and made the decision to get involved and have been involved ever since.
Cancer is a growing epidemic that affects millions of people every year. This disease affects the cells in a person’s body causing them to grow abnormally and impair the function of nearby tissue. Understanding this process through research continues to find more effective ways to manage and one day, eradicate this dreadful disease.
You can make a difference! We are asking for your help and support to raise $50,000 for cancer research. The Walk is on Saturday, September 25th at the Balboa Pavilion and starts at 8 am. The walker registration fee includes a t-shirt and is $30 until September 1st, then the fee will be $35. Sponsorships and in-kind donations are still available. For more information go to walkforcancerresearch.org. Help us make a difference by “walking, biking, or kayaking away Cancer”.
David came from Texas. Diana came from Missouri. They met in Hot Springs and spent the next 36 years together. And now, Diana is honored that the Village Walk for Cancer Research will celebrate the life of her wonderful spouse who lost his battle with cancer in July, 2020, at the height of the pandemic.
After spending many years in Texas, David and his family relocated to Hot Springs when he was a senior in high school. David and his dad were for many years “Whitlow & Son” developing subdivisions and building houses in and around Hot Springs. Along the way, he earned degrees from Arkansas Tech University and Webster University in St. Louis. David began work in Hot Springs Village in 1983 as a Work Resource Coordinator. Later in 1989 he was promoted to Director of Public Works. He and Diana moved to Hot Springs Village in 1993. David retired after 28 years of service to the POA! And after retiring the Whitlows continued to enjoy the good life as property owners.
Even though David worked full time, he was a person who was always involved in public service throughout his life. He was a charter member of Mid-America Lions Club, Hot Springs Homebuilders Association, deacon of the First Christian Church, and president of the Village People Federal Credit Union. He was especially proud to be a charter member of the HSV Rotary Club. Further proof of the Whitlows philanthropic nature is apparent in the creation of an endowment which they created with the Hot Springs Village Community Foundation which helps to fund non-profits in the Village and surrounding area.
Both Diana and David were victims of this terrible disease. Diana is a survivor of fallopian tube cancer since 2013. David’s journey had a sadder outcome with his death on July 31, 2020. David fought a valiant two-year battle against esophageal cancer. In an attempt to spend a few more years with his loved ones, David willingly entered UAMS to undergo an especially complicated ten-hour surgery. While the family expected a long hospital recovery, sadly he suffered an anoxic brain injury 3 weeks after the surgery from which he never recovered. This situation was made sadder because of the pandemic during which the family was unable to be with him.
Listening to Diana as she talks about David and her life with him, it is clear that the 36 years they spent together was a happy one filled with many great memories for them and their 3 children. And now the Village Walk for Cancer Research is proud to honor the memory of David at this year’s walk to be held at the Balboa Pavilion on September 25 at 8 a.m. Registrations forms are available at walkforcancerresearch.org. Sponsorships and in-kind donation are also greatly appreciated. Help us make a difference by “walking, biking, or kayaking away Cancer”. You can make a difference!
Melvin Arendt, Renae Harris Baker, Sherry Barrett, Hilda Bonar, Gene & Bly Border, Kevin Bowe, Ann Bowers, Edith Bowers, Tom Bryant, Jan Buettner, Christine Cageny, Annie Carpenter, Bob Chernesky, Mary Chernesky, Evaleen Cole, Harold Cole, John Cole, Virginia Lou Cole, Ayssa Crowley, Myra Cunningham, Helen Dame, Herbert L. Davis, Aunt Rught DeWitt, Ruby Dinsmore, Shirley Engquist, Jan Farnsworth, Ramona Fuller, Betty Grauberger, Ethel Greer, Morris Greer, Hazel Hammersley, Gertrude Hammond, Dan Hawes, Shirley Hawes, Phyllis Hildebrand, Alfred King Hillman, Chris Hoak, Mathew Holzapfel, Gayle Hood, Kay Jewell, Dale Jones, Wayne Kapple, Jerome Keraby, Janet M. Kelley, Andrea Kellogg, Eleanor Kirspel, Chuck Lambertz, Donald LaVelle, Larry "Shorty" Lawson, Beatrice MacNiell, Sherman Maddan, Barb Magyar, Philip Maser, Aunt Erva McKinney, Audrey Miller, Dianne Miller, Kerrie Lee MacNeill Moreno, Stephen Morgan, Tom Morgan, Betty Mossman, Mary Ann Mueller, Ann Murdoch, John Neal, Bill Nutter, Judy Pearson, Diane Perrin, Savannah Potter, Joseph Price, Louis Reynolds, Tony Rossilli, Roberty Rymer, Bob Sheppard, Norma Shoemaker, Barbara Louise Shrock, Anne Marie Smit, Will Smit, Pieter Smit, John Smither, Wilbur Smither, Wayne Smyth, Larry Snedeker, John B. Szczepaniak, Dale Thompson, Dewey Thompson, Bill Vann, Marie Vann, Marcelle Vaughn, Dan Webb, Matt Whitwell, Claudine Wickersham, Zeke Wiley, Roger Withcraft, Martha K. Yerina, Michael J. Yerina, Shirely Zoch, Rosemarie Zukauskas
Martha believes in cancer research and the benefits of clinical trials.
She is grateful to God for being here today and is eternally grateful to be here doing what she loves. Martha is looking forward to traveling again, remembering trips to Cuba, Poland, Austria, and Japan (as a Hot Springs delegate).
Martha loves to cook and entertain, however, the cooking has curtailed since Wilbur’s death in 2015.
She believes in making a difference in people’s lives and likes to do things that are enjoyable to her; reading, knitting and golfing.
She is here for a purpose, to help other people and to make a difference in their lives, especially the lives of children.
Barbara Kendrick, Betty Jennings, Betty Eccleston, Catherine Harvey, Carl McHenry, Christine Martinez, Christy Heath, Christine Martinez, Connie Silva, Cora Burch, Colleen Bland, Cyrie Wright, Daniel F. Aylward, Dan Webb, Dallas Erdman, Diane Bielanski, Dick Powell, Dot Ramsey, Eileen Miller, Erik Karlstrom, Eugenia Lois Simpson, Graham Williamson, Greg Corwin, Irv Johnson, Janet Lindsey, Jane Kearby, Jeanine Jacobsen, Jennifer Rivera, Jim Gifford, Judy Corwin, Ken MacNeill, Kitt Farrell-Poe, Mary Ann Witcraft, Marla Kimmes, Marilyn Morgan, Mary Beth Kovanen, Mary Neffner, Melanie Pederson, Nancy Paulis Crews, Nancy Webb, Nancy Groves, Peggy Sutey, Rosie Farrell, Sandy Kellerman, Sheila Jones, Susan Aylward, Susan Beattie Meyers, Terry Lee, Tom Donnelly, Tracey Salter
Honoring Shirley’s memory.
Shirley liked the Hawaiian saying, “Live in the Aloha Spirit” which means to live in such a way that you embody genuine warmth, affection, and compassion in your relationships and interactions with others. This helped Shirley deal with the loss of her mother (who died of breast cancer at the age of 55), the loss of her precious husband and son and her granddaughter, Kelsey’s diagnosis of ovarian and thyroid cancer.
If you knew Shirley, she didn’t have time to be sick and didn’t dwell on her many medical conditions that included breast cancer. If there was something that needed to be done, she was there. She stayed active in PEO, The Village Walk for Cancer Research, Hospice, First Step Teach, golf, many bridge groups and Christ Lutheran Church Befrienders Group. Shirley proudly served on the board of First Electric until she wasn’t able to make the long drive to Jacksonville. Shirley was active with the Village Walk and was recognized for all of her involvement with the Village Walk and as a cancer survivor in 2007.
Shirley died on June 2, 2018 leaving her legacy for all to cherish.
Alvin Groves, Andrea Arendt, Ann Murdoch, Ann Karlstrom, Barbara Louise Shrock, Betty Mossman, Beatrice E. MacNeill, Bill Groves, Bill Lefler, Blaine Johner, Bob Sheppard, Bobby Goins, Christine Cagney, Chris Arnoult, Charlotte Hoelscher, Christine Cagnely, David Major, Dan Hawes, David Whitlow, Dan Ferguson, Danny Gann, Dewey Thompson, Diane Perrin, Dolores Yellin, Edith Luster, Eugene Bushee, Evaleen Cole, Gene & Bly Border, George Caruth, Glenda Goolsby, Hans Von Berg, Harold Cole, Harry Teare, Helen Dame, Herbert L. Davis, Helen Ritch, Hilda Bonar, Jan Farnsworth, Jean Dowden, Jerome Kearby, John Cole, Joyce Wilkerson, Joe D. Martin, Joan Collins, Kate Williamson, Karen Coe, Kathy Williams, Kerrie Lee Moreno, Kimberly Powell, Larry Aylward, Linda Bohanan, Linda Smeester, Louis Reynolds, Mary Helen Page, Melvin Arendt, Melissa Conway, Nancy Alkov, Norma Shoemaker, Noelia Gutierrez, Patricia Gordon, Pam Hayward (1956-2019), Peggy Prince, Ralph D. Austin, Roger Witcraft, Rose Marie Zukauskas, Roger Witcraft, Roger Jobe, Ruby Goolsby, Ruth Williams, Sandy Bopp, Shirley Engquist, Shirley Hawes, Tom Bryant, Tom Morgan, Tom Liszka, Virginia Lou Cole, Victor DiForti, Virginia Freeman, Virginia Lou Cole, Wayne Kapple, Wendy Maceo Melton, Wilbur Smither, Zeke Wiley