Not everyone can approach cancer the way Janis Tolvaysh has. But she hopes we can give it a try.
Tolvaysh, a Hoffman Estates resident, is an ovarian cancer survivor. She became a caregiver for her daughter who battled breast cancer. Recently, she received her own breast cancer diagnosis and endured a double mastectomy. How has she responded?
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"I decided to have fun with cancer," Tolvaysh explains.
Did she say fun?
After her first surgery, Tolvaysh surprised staff and visitors by starting bed pan parades when she felt the mood in her room needed "improvement." She would throw her wig as part of a game when nurses came to check on her. She's been known to make even the most serious of doctors crack a smile.
That's why it is no surprise that Tolvaysh's team name for the 2014 Wellness Place Community Cancer Walk/Celebration is "A Party Waiting to Happen."
The walk begins at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, May 18, at the Arboretum of South Barrington. For the fifth annual event, Wellness Place is focusing on a commemorative one-mile walk with a grand celebration of life and hope, including a memorial balloon release and a performance by the rock band Modern Day Romeos.
"I believe that my purpose is to communicate to others how attitude and places like Wellness Place are necessities to anyone battling cancer," says Tolvaysh.
With lighthearted humor and positive attitude, Tolvaysh has been an inspiration to all. At the same time, she is steadfastly serious about the importance of being informed. She encourages those whose families have endured cancer to check into the availability of a BRCA test to uncover potential hereditary issues.
As the mother of two daughters, Tolvaysh experienced firsthand how the BRCA test helped her younger daughter receive a lifesaving diagnosis. "It was much harder to be a caregiver than it was to have my own cancer," Tolvaysh says about her daughter's illness. "That's why I am so impressed with how Wellness Place helps caregivers and survivors alike."
The Wellness Place walk includes children's activities, food and raffles. Registration includes a T-shirt, and is $35 for adults; $25 for those seven to 16; and free for children six and younger.
Proceeds benefit Wellness Place cancer-related counseling, education and support programs which are provided free to survivors, families and caregivers. For information about registration and sponsor opportunities, call LeeAnn Atwood at (847) 241-5973 or visit www.wellnessplacewalkrun.kintera.org.
"A journey through cancer can make any one of us feel alone," said Atwood, marketing director of Wellness Place. "At Wellness Place, it is our hope that cancer survivors, their caregivers and families never feel alone."
Wellness Place is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 organization serving the Northwest suburbs located at 1619 W. Colonial Parkway in Palatine. Information is at www.wellnessplace.org.