From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

April 1, 2021

Pictured above: Susie Osha (left), Valerie Barrett (right), and fellow KWF recipients were invited to the University of Cincinnati women’s basketball Wear Pink game on February 3, 2020.

When Susie Osha was diagnosed with breast cancer, the last thing on her mind was scheduling a day at the spa. “I was exhausted from the chemo treatments and when I walked by the mirror, I couldn’t recognize myself,” said Susie Osha, a resident of Wyoming, Ohio. “My calendar was filled with treatment appointments and doctor visits. My husband travelled most of the week. My son was headed to college and I had a very active 15-year-old daughter.”

Susie’s battle with breast cancer began in July 2017. While under the care of OHC’s Karyn M. Dyehouse, MD, and Betsy H. Levick, MD, Susie received an e-mail message informing her that someone nominated her and one guest for a spa day experience. The sender of the message was the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer (KWF).

KWF, headquartered in Cincinnati, sends cancer patients and their families LIVING with cancer on special vacations, relaxing spa days, concerts, and other FUN-ONLY activities. Kent Wellington established KWF in 2007 after his wife, Karen, lost her battle with cancer. Karen had hoped to send one cancer patient a year on a vacation after she beat cancer.

“After spending so much time being poked and prodded at doctors’ visits, I couldn’t believe someone just wanted to help me relax,” said Susie, whose obvious plus-one for the spa experience was her daughter, Peyton. Peyton had been giving her daily injections to increase her white blood count. “I was so tired from my battle, and I needed something to look forward to. I was definitely spoiled during my spa day.”

Friends, loved ones, co-workers, and other compassionate individuals can nominate patients actively battling cancer to receive a special vacation or event from the KWF. These experiences are made possible by generous donors who give a week of their vacation homes, timeshares, airline miles, sporting event tickets, and even cash. The small KWF staff backed by an army of volunteers solicits contributions, reviews nomination forms, and gifts the experiences.

Susie’s neighbor and fellow breast cancer survivor, Valerie Barrett, nominated her for the spa experience. “When I found out Susie was battling cancer, I couldn’t help but recognize that her situation was very similar to mine,” said Valerie. “I had been through it, and I wanted to do something for Susie to make it easier for her and her family. I was so blown away by the vacation the KWF gave to me and my family. I was anxious to share that feeling with someone else.”

Both Susie and Valerie personify the “give first” mentality that is central to the KWF mission. They serve as KWF Recipient Ambassadors who organize activities to engage recipients. “Now, we have a chance to pay it forward,” said Susie. “We’ve created a community and we support one another.”

At present, KWF has a wait list of 40 women who have been nominated for gifts. They will begin a social media campaign and host their annual gala, the Karen’s Gift event, to secure more vacations and experiences. “Karma keeps bringing the volunteers and donations to us,” said Susie. “When we tell our story, people can’t help but give. The community’s been very generous.”

Susie credits her complete cancer remission with treatment she received through an OHC clinical trial. Receiving follow-up care from OHC’s Patrick J. Ward, MD, PhD, Susie’s feeling more like herself. Her volunteer work at KWF has evolved into a part-time program assistant role giving her the opportunity to welcome more people to the KWF family.

“We hear firsthand from patients that a vacation or spa day has a tremendous positive impact on their emotional well-being,” said OHC’s President, D. Randolph “Randy” Drosick, MD, who is a member of the KWF Medical Advisory Board. “These experiences allow patients to step away from their appointments and treatments and enjoy precious moments with their families.” OHC is proud to be a 2021 sponsor of the growing KWF.

KWF has nine chapters and awareness is on the rise. “Soon, I’m headed to Phoenix to give the gift of FUN to a recently nominated cancer patient,” said Susie. “We are getting nominations from Chicago, and we hope someone wants to start a chapter there,” she added.

Last December, KWF awarded its 1,000th gift. “Many people don’t know that recipients do not have to be breast cancer patients,” noted Susie. “Kent Wellington always said, ‘Cancer is cancer. It has no boundaries. If we have the opportunity to help, we’ll do it.’” said Susie.

To perpetuate KWF’s “give first” mantra, nominate a cancer patient using the web form on their website, which can be found here: https://www.karenwellingtonfoundation.org/nominate.html. For more information on the May 8 Karen’s Gift fundraiser, visit this link: https://www.karenwellingtonfoundation.org/kg.html.

OHC’s cancer experts understand the impact a cancer diagnosis has on patients and their families. If you or someone you know needs cancer support services, visit our Community Support Resources page. For more information about cancer treatment or to request a second opinion, visit ohcare.com or call 1-888-649-4800.

Comments (1)

One response to “A Gift of Memories for a Breast Cancer Patient”

  1. Alexia Zigoris says:

    Susie, you are a red headed rock star! Thanks for sharing your story and joy with us!

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