When cancer strikes, a helping hand is needed


July 07, 1999|By Donna Koros Stramella | Donna Koros Stramella,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY Wednesday morning, when I drive past the Cancer Survivors Memorial in Towson, I am grateful for something that happened over two decades ago.

I was only 20 when I was diagnosed with what I like to call a "mild case." The malignant tumor on my thyroid was extracted by removing the whole gland. The memorial speaks not only to me, but to thousands who also were fortunate enough to beat the disease. But I certainly didn't beat it alone.

With each passing year, I am more grateful to everyone who helped me. My mother spent hours serving as an unofficial private nurse. When her car battery died, she took the bus. My fiance (now my husband) kept a constant prayer vigil, and my friends and other family members were always ready to lift my spirits.

No one is an island when it comes to cancer. To paraphrase the Beatles, we get by with a little help from our friends.

Glen Burnie resident Jeff Schmidt is no exception.

He has spent most of his adult life helping others. As a volunteer with the Harundale Youth Sports League, his seasons have been marked not by changes in the weather, but by changes in the games being played. In spring and fall, he taught soccer players to shoot. In the winter, he helped basketball players with jump shots. And in summer, he taught softball players how to pull off a double play. But now he needs some help.

A few months ago, at age 37, this husband and father was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a rare cancer. Through the generosity of La Fontaine Bleu, a bull roast will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday at the banquet hall to help the family with mounting medical bills. Tickets are $25.

Even in the midst of treatment, Schmidt has his mind on the 11- and 12-year-old girls he coaches. Recently, on the day after his release from the hospital, he was back at the field, watching a game.

His wife, Doreen, was not surprised. "Watching the games took a lot out of him, but he wanted to be there. He tried to [delay] going into the hospital because he missed seeing the kids at the field."

For tickets, or to make a donation, call Christine Schmidt at 410-761-5163.

Church gets help

Grace Bible Church is getting by with a little help from its friends, as well. Glen Lutheran Church is allowing the new congregation use of its facilities.

The Rev. Ed Vasquez, pastor of Grace Bible, describes his church as "evangelical and strong in biblical convictions." The services will feature contemporary music.

"This will be a casual atmosphere," he said. "People don't need to dress up. We want to reach the heart of people, not their outward appearance."

Vasquez graduated from Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pa. He was the former pastor at Grace Community Church in Glen Burnie. Services will be held at 11: 30 a.m. each Sunday at Glen Lutheran, 106 Carroll Road, across from Glendale Elementary School.

For details, call 410-590-3334.

Cheers for Heather

Congratulations are in order for Glen Burnie Park Elementary student Season Daugherty for her recent national title at the Americheer National Championships in Orlando, Fla.

With only two years of cheering experience, Season bested nine other finalists to earn the title in the sixth-grade-and-under division. She cheers with the Maryland Twisters of Glen Burnie.

Her squad also captured a third place in the junior division and a fourth place in the senior division.

Miniature school

Past and present students and staff of Glendale Elementary can now take a little of their school years home.

The Cat's Meow company will replicate Glendale's exterior into a miniature wooden version, suitable for display on a mantel or bookcase. Orders are being accepted. While the exact price will be determined based on the number of orders, it will be under $20. Proceeds will benefit the 50-year anniversary celebration at the school.

Cat's Meow has copied a number of local churches and schools, including Glen Burnie High and Anne Arundel Community College. Painted details are included on the front, along with a tiny cat in silhouette, the company's trademark.

To order or for more information, call Nancy Green after 6 p.m. weekdays at 410-768-3472.

Community introduction

The Point Pleasant-Shoreland Improvement Association will sponsor an introduction night at 7: 30 tomorrow at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1451 Furnace Ave. Members are encouraged to bring a neighbor to hear what the group does.

Secretary Pat Trott said the low dues of $5 per family are to encourage a large membership. The improvement association is active in local politics, environmental and development issues and education. The group issues two $1,000 scholarships each year to college students.

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