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Husband's words spurred cancer battle PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:00 AM

BY NANCY SPENCER

Herald Editor

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OTTOVILLE —“We’ll get through this,” were her husband’s first words when Ruth Wannemacher was told she had cancer on Nov. 25, 2008.

When she had her annual mammogram that year, Ruth Wannemacher didn’t feel any different than she had the year before. It was just a routine checkup, something the mother of three did every year.

 

“Cancer runs in our family,” the Ottoville High School secretary said. “My mother died at age 39 from ovarian cancer and I had an aunt who died from cancer. I knew it was important to have a mammogram and do other things for my health.”

 

The mammogram came back normal but her pathologist didn’t like the way her lymph nodes looked, so a biopsy was planned.

As Ruth and her husband, Terry, sat in the doctor’s office, waiting for the news, the doctor walked in asked if she knew why she was there. “Yes.” she said. “I have an infection.”

“No,” the doctor said. “You have cancer. We don’t know where but it has spread to your lymph nodes, which means it’s aggressive.”

Her husband’s words would be used on many occasions throughout the ensuing months.

“That became our saying around here,” Wannemacher said. “At first, I thought, why me? Everyone will feel sorry for me. Then I became an advocate. I decided I was going to show everyone what you do to beat it.”

Ruth had a lumpectomy in December 2008 and immediately started chemotherapy and radiation. She logged her trips to Lima for appointments, which included eight rounds of chemotherapy, 33 radiation treatments and 18 doses of Herceptin, a newer intravenous drug used to treat Wannemacher’s type of breast cancer.

“I would have my chemotherapy treatments on Thursday and then have the rest of the weekend to rest so I had the strength to come back to school on Monday,” she said “Everyone at Ottoville was so supportive. All the cards and well- wishes from them lined walls in the my home and I would look at them every day.”

Wannemacher also received support from her family of three children: Jaime, Tiffany and Ryan; and her five grandchildren.

During her school’s annual Cancer Walk in 2009, Wannemacher was a guest speaker. She detailed how when her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she was sent home to die.

“Forty years ago, cancer was a death sentence,” she told the staff and student body. “Today, cancer is a dreaded disease and hopefully in years to come, cancer will be a disease of the past.”

Wannemacher explained how specimens of her cancer cells were sent to California to be analyzed

“We have scientists and researchers all over the county studying the different types of cancers and the many forms of cancer cells. With the great strides in cancer research and recovery treatments, scientists and doctors can determine the best drugs to give for the different cases of cancer and what drug or method works best for each type of cancer,” she said.

Wannemacher was billed cancer-free in April 2010 and feels bringing awareness is the best defense and offense against cancer.

“Women need to get their mammograms,” she said. “Even though the mammogram didn’t catch mine, because I had went to get one, it was found.”

Wannemacher also performs self-examinations, much more detailed than before her battle with cancer. She watches what she eats and exercises.

“I’m enjoying my family and co-workers and the students and looking forward to the arrival of our sixth grandchild,” she said.

Life is good and Wannemacher doesn’t dwell on having had cancer and she doesn’t forget the most important part of being a survivor — living.

Last Updated on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 8:03 PM
 

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