Prayer power helps family cope with cancer


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Posted Online: March 22, 2013, 2:50 am
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By Claudia Loucks, cjloucks@qconline.com
GENESEO -- Prayer power helps a mother and her two daughters cope with cancer cruelties.

Cheryl Despain, Geneseo, believes in the power of prayer, having said many recently for her daughters, Lisa Despain Ward, Prophetstown, and Amy Despain Fuhr, Blue Springs, Mo., who were diagnosed with different types of cancer within the last three months.

A benefit to help cover their medical expenses will be held Saturday, March 30, at the Atkinson American Legion, 509 N. School St.

Mrs. Despain certainly feels her daughters' pain because of her own experience with cancer. She underwent radiation 15 years ago when diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mrs. Despain's mother also died from ovarian cancer when she was 33. Her grandmother also died from cancer.

Family history led Mrs. Fuhr to take some tests last September todetermine if she was a high risk for breast cancer, and it was determined she was, Mrs. Despain said.

Mrs. Ward and her husband, Matt Ward, had a daughter, Lilah, born last August. As she began breastfeeding her new baby, Mrs. Ward started noticing symptoms, which continued to worsen, and led her obstetrician to refer her to the Breast Care Center in Peoria, where she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, an "extremely aggressive" form of cancer, Mrs. Despain said.

"It also has been found in one rib bone, and there is a small spot on her liver, which puts her at a stage 4 -- not something a parent ever wants to hear," she said.

Mrs. Ward has undergone heavy doses of chemotherapy, but continues to work at ExCEL in Atkinson, teaching middle-school youth with special needs.

She plans to have a double mastectomy when the school year ends,Mrs. Despain said. "Then she will have radiation for the bone cancer and treatment for the liver. She is full of life and plans to have a full life."

After Mrs. Ward's diagnosis had been made, Mrs. Fuhr decided to have her ovaries removed.

"Amy is 35 and had that surgery on Jan. 18 of this year," Mrs. Despain said.

Mrs. Fuhr had a previous mammogram and tested clean, Mrs. Despain said. Yet, she decided to undergo an MRI six months later, and rotate those tests every six months, Mrs. Despain said.

"And sure enough, there it was, three spots, stage 1, invasive ductal carcinoma, of an aggressive type," Mrs. Despain said, referring to a later test. "It is different than Lisa's, however both are very aggressive."

Mrs. Fuhr also is undergoing heavy chemotherapy, and continues working as a high-school English teacher at William Chrisman School in Independence, Mo. She and her husband, Jake Fuhr, have a son, Macklin, 5, and daughter, Olivia, 3.

Mr. Fuhr's parents, Keith and Peggy Fuhr, moved from Rock Island to Missouri after retiring, to be near the family, and are now able to help with the children, Mrs. Despain said.

"Jake's parents are Amy's and Jake's support," Mrs. Despain said. "My husband, Tim, is my support, as are our circle of friends.
"And my girls are strong in their faith," she said. "We are so thankful for all the support shown them. I can't say enough about the power of prayer, the network of friends and the love that has been bestowed upon us, even by people we have never met. It is humbling and amazing to see how the Lord works."

IF YOU GO
What: Medical-expenses benefit.
When: Saturday, March 30.
Where: Atkinson American Legion, 509 N. School St. Doors open at 4 p.m. Dinner at 6 p.m. Dinner will feature pulled-pork sandwiches, baked beans, salad, chips, dessert, drink. Hot-dog meal for children also available.
Cost: $7 for adults, $5.50 for children.
Other events: Silent auction 5-8 p.m. Hardball band 8-11:30 p.m. 50/50 raffle, live auction, and bake sale.
Donations also can by made by calling Central Bank, Geneseo, 309-944-5601.
For information, call 309-507-2377.







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