Survivorship CAN Be Fun… When Survivors MAKE IT Fun: As Demonstrated by Kathie Horness & Bob Hartig!

Survivorship CAN Be Fun… When Survivors MAKE IT Fun: As Demonstrated by Kathie Horness & Bob Hartig!

By Tim E. Renzelmann (December 19, 2022)

We held the very first TLC Survivorship Can Be Fun Game Gathering (a Cribbage Tournament) back in February of 2001. It may sound paradoxical but surviving cancer can be fun... when cancer survivors make it fun!

Take long-time cancer survivor Kathie Horness. Kathie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008 at the age of 38. Kathie was one of our “Survivor Spotlights” ten years ago for the TLC Supportive Newsletter along with another lymphoma survivor, Chris Meyer. She described her initial reaction to her diagnosis:

“I thought about my kids. My son was three years old and his room was still painted in nursery room décor. So, that weekend, I painted Michael’s room just in case I would die before Monday came around! It sounds funny... but it’s true! Almost immediately, I made a list of things I wanted to do. JUST IN CASE!!! I booked Disney World tickets that next week, even before my staging, . I said, ‘No matter what happens, my kids are going with me to Disney World!’ I’m sure I freaked my family and friends out for the next six months because I was so focused on doing things with my kids... JUST IN CASE! I had to do it though... I just had to... because I just didn’t know how this was going to turn out!!!

The Story of the “Lymphomaniacs” (as I told it in the forementioned TLC Supportive Newsletter):

Kathie, Chris, and I were brought together by a common diagnosis – lymphoma. Eventually, one of us suggested, “We should get together over a few beers!” Yep, even bald guys need to let their hair down every now and then! The first time we got together I shared my favorite lymphoma-related riddle: Q: What do you call someone who gets lymphoma over and over and over again? A: A “lymphomaniac”! From that night on, we would call ourselves “The Lymphomaniacs”!

See below PDF for photo: Kathie Horness (far left) poses with the Beacon of Hope and fellow lymphoma survivors (and “Lymphomaniacs”) Tim Renzelmann and Chris Meyer during a SCCCF fundraising event in 2013!

This year marks Kathie’s 15th Christmas as a cancer survivor... and a cancer patient. Many of us hear those life-changing words, “You have cancer!” Some of us are profoundly fortunate to eventually hear the follow up, “Your cancer is in remission!” or “You are cured!” Kathie has not heard those words and, except for a major medical breakthrough, may never hear them.

Kathie, along with Chris, continue to be familiar and smiling faces around the clinic!

Kathie surprised me early one morning last week when she arrived at the clinic, well before most of the staff arrived. She was delivering about fifty Christmas packages that she graciously put together to hand out to any cancer patients visiting the clinic!

“I just thought it would be fun!” Kathy explained. “They kind of think of me as ‘Julie the Cruise Director’ when I’m in the treatment room because I’m always talking to other people. So, I reached out to friends and so many donated items.”

The bags included a hand-made card from a young boy or girl along with a variety of items: a pair of socks (who doesn’t like socks), a hand-knitted cap, a puzzle book, some snacks, Chapstick, hand cream and more! Most importantly, they were filled completely with love and kindness!

See below PDF for photo: Thank you to the following donors: Debbie Zurheide Schmidt, Glady Positewitz, Rook Quality Metal Polishing Co., Jenny Radue, Holly Clappes, Traci Gost Goking, Marie Milbrath Schroeder, Jamie Roethel Koenig, Wanda Brickner, Lori Free – Paws Up Pet Rescue, Mrs. Vicki Grunewald and Students at Lake Country Academy, Mrs. Erin Stange & Students at Northview Elementary School, Butch & Ann Pine Grove, Mike Perl, Mary Truttschel, David Phillips, Dustin & Alice from Shuff’s, and Kathie Horness!

On the exact same day, “Bob the Builder” Hartig, who has facilitated a wide variety of “Bob the Builder” woodworking projects for cancer patients/survivors as part of TLC Survivorship Can Be Fun in recent years (and who also happens to be a lymphoma survivor, diagnosed in 2017) gifted the staff with a hand-made “Wonderful Oven Squirrel” (Bob’s left hand) and handed out hand-made “Spurtle” cooking utensils (Bob’s right hand) to patients visiting the clinic (see below PDF for photo)!

Thank you to both Kathie and Bob for demonstrating to all of us that “Survivorship Can Be Fun!”

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