The Vandalia Leader

Follow Us On:

11th annual service at Cancer Memorial Park brings survivors together

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 8:28 pm

By Stan Schwartz

Sunday evening as the cooling shade draped across the Cancer Memorial Park on the square in downtown Bowling Green, a group of about two dozen people gathered to hear stories of victory and stories of sorrow.

Karen Daffron, chair of the Cancer Memorial Park Foundation, welcomed those attending the event. The foundation was established in 2005, for the purpose of building the park.

“Our mission is to support those who are fighting cancer by raising funds through the purchase of the pavers and benches in the park,” she said. The funds also support the upkeep of the park. Sometimes when a family member or friend dies and is cremated, the survivor doesn’t have a place to go and speak with the departed. The park can be used for that purpose as well.

Pavers, she noted, can be engraved with a message or a person’s name.

“The Cancer Memorial Park also supports those who morn,” she added.

Letha Ingram provided the music for the program. Attendees were given copies of the words from the songs she would sing, so they could sing along if they wanted.

Daffron said her heart was aching because of the recent death of Bowling Green High School senior, Bryson Brandenburger.

But she was also happy for her granddaughter and her whole class who graduated the night before.

“I know it’s difficult for them right now,” she said about the Bryson’s family and friends. “I pray they’ll be able to celebrate their high school years at some point,” she said.

What happened last Thursday night, she added was a decisive moment in Bryson’s life, but it wasn’t a defining moment.

“It does not define Bryson, nor does it define his class or his friends,” she said.

Mary Jane Noellsch and Patti Gilbert shared their cancer stories. One was of survival and one was about being a spouse of someone who has lost his battle with cancer.

Noellsch who is a retired registered nurse talked about developing a pounding pain in her eye. She went through several doctors who could not find anything wrong with her eye. It wasn’t a migraine nor was it a tumor in her head. Eventually, after months of dealing with this pain, she said she found a doctor who would not give up until they found what the problem was.

But the news wasn’t good. One of the scans showed a mass on her left lung.

Mary couldn’t understand how that happened because she’s never smoked in her life.

An operation to remove the affected portion of her lung was successful. She didn’t need chemo or radiation.

She believes God sent her a message through the eye pain to get checked out, and that’s what allowed the doctor to discover the slow-growing mass.

“Once we had a plan on how to deal with this,” she said, no more headache.

Rev. Cole Branstetter gave a prayer for those who continue to fight cancer.