A letter from Ann Custer and Lisa Kronbach-Eisenbach

Dear Military Families:

I volunteer at Nightingales Harvest (nightingales-harvest.org) in Toledo, Ohio.

Nightingales Harvest Inc.is a food bank that provides perishable and non-perishable nutrition, hygiene, toiletries, and cleaning products. This organization’s mission is to promote good nutrition for the cancer patients, caregivers, and children. NGH lessens the financial, social, emotional and physical burdens. Nightingales Harvest is the only existing food bank of its kind. NGH treats the whole family as one. We encourage and cultivate a healthier life for our community’s cancer families at no cost to the family.

 

The following free program is a critical resource to help bridge the cancer family to survivorship. Nightingales Harvest Inc. Nightingales Harvest has successfully served well over 750 cancer patients and their families at no cost since the conception of the Non-Profit, May 27, 2011.

 

The unique overall goal regarding services of NGH, is to manage the pallet and texture changes during treatment. This results in a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients in our community with no waste.

Due to my partnership with Nightingale’s Harvest we have sent over 210 pounds of coupons to our families overseas since July 2013.

We want to thank you for your service and for your sacrifices to keep America free.

Sincerely,

 

Ann Custer and Lisa Kronbach-Eisenbach

Chrystal Dart-Greer and Family

Hello, My name is Chrystal Dart-Greer and let me tell you about my family’s journey with cancer and how Nightingales Harvest has impacted us. In February of 2011 my husband Gary Griever Sr. was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. That was the moment our lives actually stood still trying to wrap our minds around this news and wondering how and what we would do. We have two sons, Two cats and one gecko lizard and all were effected. Even though we have insurance and some savings.., we would find out in time that we would tap out a lot of our finances. This is hard news to deal with, but to have to think about where all this money and covered expenses are coming from and deciding what gets paid and what has to wait is difficult. Then we fond Nightingales Harvest, a wonderful, totally no profit organization. The relief of knowing nutrition, hygiene products and cleaning supplies could be provided and no one asked for our household income. Now that was amazing. This allowed us to save finances for gas to go to treatment, extra for special foods for Gary’s ever changing pallet and texture issues. We have been so grateful for all the knowledge that was passed on to us to assist in our needs, likes and support from these wonderful people. Sorry to say that Gary went to his next journey on December 24, 2012.

A year before we lost our youngest son, Daniel. Harvest was still there to support us. I believe so much in this nonprofit that I myself have become proactive in this mission ,that one person through her journey, has made the dream come true. Families can feel the love, support and relief like my family did. This fills a gap that is in our community of need. I personally invite you to spend a few hours and see the difference that the people of these unselfish, kind, loving and supporting volunteers do to make a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Thank you for your time and reading my families story, Chrystal Dart-Greer and Family

 

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Janet Coykendall’s Story

To Whom It May Concern,

 

I found a lump. I was scared, it all began to go downhill on what this lump was.

Then all the worries began. Questions nobody knows answers to. Then one day when I was down and out after losing my hair, my mind ( I thought), Sara Pym came to me and handed me a card with a name of Nightingales Harvest on it that she has volunteered at for people with cancer. My pride, I didn’t want to go. Was I embarrassed, I don’t think so. I believed that someone else can use it more than me.

Well, the day came and I went. I had to, I have spent all my money on this disease they call cancer. This expensive disease. When I walked in I had the warmest welcome. The fear of going, the possible loss of pride I had, I don’t know what it was all went away. The people at this food bank are absolutely amazing. This has helped my home so much I don’t even know where to begin. The days I am down and not able to get out of bed from chemo, I know that my kids will be able to eat because there is food.

I have never realized what people go through. You hear oh so and so has cancer. You never once worry about them eating or not having money to buy food to eat. Until you live in that situation your self. This food bank has opened my eyes very widely on how people can help with such little things we take for granted in life.

I am grateful for the food bank and when I finish my chemo and radiation, I will pay forward to cancer patients just as all these volunteers and donations have done for me.

 

Janet Coykendall

 

Cancer Food Bank

Roger Green’s Story

My name is Rodger Green. I consider myself as a mate survivor. I will never forget the date 10/10/02. My Wife Carolyn was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 5 years previous. We had learned to live with her diagnosis by using meds and proper rest. Carolyn came home from work one day more tired than usual and had some difficulty catching her breath. After many tests she was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma . She went into the hospital on Friday to have a stint put in to assist her because she was retaining water. Carolyn was going to get her first chemo treatment and her doctor told us after that she would get seven treatments, one every 3 weeks and then she would be cancer free. She didn’t get her chemo treatment that day because she had to be in a private room for the treatment and no room was available till evening, so the treatment was scheduled for Monday morning. We spent the weekend talking about everything except cancer, just having positive thoughts. Monday I went back to work while our daughter stayed at the hospital. Carolyn was taken for a kidney dialysis treatment to help her with her water retention. After the treatment her blood pressure dropped to 38/16 and was rushed to I.C.U. and put on blood pressure medicine and a ventilator to assist her to breath. My wife lost her battle with cancer 3 weeks after diagnosis. Judy, our neighbor was at the hospital every day. She helped us in so many ways because she knew what we were going thru. Judy was an 8 year non Hodgkin lymphoma survivor and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia also. Judy was also the chairman of the Relay for Life of Anthony Wayne and the American Cancer Society. She told me about the relay and said it would be a project my family, friends and I would enjoy being involved in. we formed a team in memory of  their mother and my wife. Last year was the 11th year of participation for “ Carolyn’s Crew” in our relay. A new ACS rep transferred in from West Virginia to our local office. Since I was the luminaria chairman for our relay I was asked what we used for weight in our luminaria bags. I told her sand and she suggested cans of food for the weight and then donate the food to a local food bank after the relay. I was given a business for Nightingales  Harvest . I set up a meeting with its founder Lisa Kronbach  Eisenbach , the founder. I told her of our idea and she said she would very graciously

Accept any cans of food we would like to donate to her pantry. I told her I would be retiring in a few months and was told if I got tired of the retired life, to contact her for she would love some volunteer help. I was so impressed with Lisa’s excitement and dedication to her mission of serving the whole family. I thought about working with Lisa and her group to help the cancer patient and the whole family transform their lives into survivorship. I have met so many wonderful and brave families and inspiring cancer patients. When I go home from the pantry at night I have such a warm and satisfying feeling from my work at the pantry and pray, someday a cure will be found  and I will no longer be needed. I have written a poem about my work with Lisa as a volunteer for her.

Mark Klein’s Journey

Cancer Survivor Success Story: Mark Klein’s Journey

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Prior to November 30, 2012, I lived a normal life… then, I received a diagnosis of stage 3b testicular cancer. This is when the fight of my life, for my life began. As early as October, I had a pain near my upper thigh/lower abdomen area, but I figured I had simply pulled a muscle. In the following weeks, the pain progressed so much that I was limping with every step. At this point, I figured my condition was serious so my doctor checked me for a hernia and found nothing. Not liking his answer, I looked for another opinion. The other doctor didn’t find a hernia either.

Fighting Cancer During the Holidays

Thanksgiving break was rapidly approaching so I sucked up the pain and told everyone I was going to wait to go to the hospital until Thanksgiving night. I was not going to miss eating a well cooked meal with my family. Thanksgiving came and after eating I went to the hospital where I stayed until Saturday afternoon when all the series of testing was complete. Upon discharge, I had scheduled a follow up appointment with the doctor for the following Friday, November 30. The appointment is still a blur. My mother and sister were with me and I recall the doctor saying my Alpha-Fetoprotein level was 4400 (normal range is between 0 and eight), not knowing what that meant I knew I was screwed when he started drawing diagrams.

When you hear “You have cancer”, you translate it as somebody telling you that you now have a death sentence. I broke down in tears. I held my mother and told her I was going to beat this thing. I’ve always been a positive person, but I knew this was going to be my biggest challenge ever. The doctor wanted me to begin chemo immediately, but I was expostulated against that, telling him I had some movie opportunities coming up. He then described to me the situation I was facing. Stage 3b means the cancer has spread your lymph nodes and stage 3c is terminal. So, I shut my mouth and found myself actually listening to a doctor for once.

My friends on a social media page were asking how I was doing since my doctor’s appointment and I posted that “I have cancer, it doesn’t have me. This thing has no idea who it’s messing with, I’m Mark Klein” and there it was, my positive thinking.

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The Process

I had my chemo port installed on December 5, and two hours later I went bowling. Going against the wishes of my teammates, I still bowled and I proved to myself and them that cancer was not going to get many victories against me, if any. My first cycle of chemo (Etoposide, Bleomycin, and Cisplatin), which was three weeks long, started the following Wednesday. The first treatments took place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and then once a week for the following two weeks. Going against doctor’s orders, I maintained my social life the first couple of weeks. One of the important things I did during this time was going to Nightingale Harvest, a food bank for cancer patients and their families. It’s a wonderful organization with wonderful and caring people. I would highly suggest looking them up or finding something like this in your area if you, or a family member, ever need assistance. Another important thing I did was meet up with a childhood friend’s father. He served as a huge inspiration since he received a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer the previous year. As he was talking I absorbed everything he said, especially when he told me he knew I was going to beat this thing.

On Christmas Day, I had a fever and went to the emergency room where I learned I had pneumonia. I had to stay at the hospital for four days; during that period, I lost all my hair. I said goodbye to my hair and goodbye to my immune system. The winter months were horrible for me as I battled pneumonia two more times and had to get four blood transfusions, due to my low platelets. This was part of Hell Week, the week when I wasn’t sure if I would make it or not. This is when I realized how strong I really was. At one point, I was so weak that I was crawling along my bedroom floor. I looked up and said, “If you’re going to take me, take me now. Otherwise, give me the strength to get through this”. I am now a firm believer in God. It was also at that moment that I remembered who I was, I’m Mark Klein. I knew I had to keep fighting for my friends, my family, myself, and other patients. I couldn’t quit! As I was mustering up the strength to pull myself up to my bed, I kept asking myself, how could you get others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? All the things I said to everyone that was supporting raced through my head and it re-energized me. Finally, in bed, I breathed a sigh of relief and cracked a smile. I knew I was going to get through this now.

During this monotonous week, I lost sixteen pounds, as it was impossible to keep my food down. One of my best friends came in from Illinois, because he heard I was in bad shape. Eventually I started to hold food down and before I knew it March 16 was right around the corner, my last day of chemo! After chemo, I enjoyed regaining the weight that I had lost. I also stopped by my employer to say hi to my friends and I found out they had a fundraiser for me. That still blows me away. In April, I had routine lab work done and they found a blood clot in my IVC vein. Upon hearing this, I chuckled and said, “It’s just another obstacle”. I had surgery in May to remove two possibly cancerous masses, one the size of a marble and the other the size of an orange along with twenty-five lymph nodes.

The surgery was five hours long and the operation consisted of cutting me open from my sternum down past my belly button. I woke up to find twenty-seven staples in me, but when I got the results back, everything was benign! The following day, my doctor informed me that there was a 90% chance of this coming back within the first two years and that I must have quarterly checkups. I confidently replied, “This thing doesn’t want a rematch.” He also told me that they didn’t remove either one of my testicles. So, I beat cancer and kept both of “my boys”, that was a double victory! My road to recovery was difficult, since I had to teach myself how to walk again. Walk slowly and try to enjoy the things most of us take for granted every day. I returned to work in September and gradually got back in the grove of things. When October came, I decided to go to a local gym and that’s when I knew I was finally back and better than ever.

Going Forward

As I write this, I am nine months cancer free! Every day, for the rest of my life, I will continue to fight this horrible illness. Whether you are a patient, a friend, a family member, or caretaker, keep your attitude positive. Every day that you wake up is the start of a new and wonderful day. I have had many different names in my life, but the best ones are “inspiration” and “survivor”. Cancer tried to kill me and I took it personal. I hope you do as well.

 

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Stephanie Elliot’s Journey

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It all started when I was 22 years old with a 3 year old son and an 8 month old daughter and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I will never forget how I felt when the Dr’s sat me down and showed me the MRI image showing I did in fact have cancer. None of the Dr’s I saw thought this was possible and were  just as stunned as I was viewing the results. They explained that it was a type of breast cancer they hadn’t seen before. They advised that I start treatment as soon as possible starting with the removal of my breast. I opted for a bilateral mastectomy due to my age I thought I would be able to cut the chances of the cancer coming back if the majority of my breast tissue was gone. On Dec 5, 2010 I had a bilateral mastectomy; January 11 2011 I have my first round of chemo. Finished my chemo treatment on July 5, 2011 then began my radiation treatments in September 2011.  Even though treatments were rough I kept smiling and stayed positive for my children who are older now but they still remember me being sick.

After 6 months of chemotherapy and 35 treatments of radiation. I met Lisa Eisenbach. Nightingales Harvest helped our family so much. My husband had to take leave from work to care for me so times were tough as it was. Nightingales Harvest brought us food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies as we needed them. I am grateful that this organization care’s about people. Here we are 3 years later and I still go to nightingales harvest for help when I need it. Although I was surprised that even though I beat cancers butt that I am still eligible for help due to me being a part of a clinical trial.  This organization holds a special place in our hearts.

 

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Creative Kitchen Makeover

Nightingale’s Harvest appreciates Dr. Laura Williams and her University of Toledo students for their successful fundraiser spaghetti dinner. Their efforts helped with making over the kitchen and increasing the space so that we can better serve cancer families in the community.

Nightingale’s Harvest also appreciates the staff of Mad Anthony’s in Waterville for a successful benefit on November 25. They collected a large amount of money and food for cancer families.

If you wish to support the kitchen makeover you can visit any Key Bank and make a contribution to the Creative Kitchen Account.

 

Director’s Letter

I would like to thank so many for making a difference in the lives of cancer families in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. The sponsors for our Second Annual Barbecue were amazing and we couldn’t have done it without them. Cancer families had a free day of family fun and wonderful food while listening to live entertainment. The supporters of the Second Annual Barbecue were:

Savage and Associates
Saint James Lutheran Church
Humana Insurance
Meijer Store (Alexis Road)
Famous Dave’s
Odyssey
Ohioan Home Health Care
Comfort Keepers

Nightingale’s Harvest appreciates the caring and partnerships of these great organizations.

Nightingale’s Harvest recently received grants from Susan G. Komen, and the Donald E. Perry Foundation. Because of these special gifts, cancer families continue to receive free nutrition, and infection control products, supplying the whole cancer family with basic tools needed to reach survivorship. This is a win, win caring partnership for cancer families.