When Cancer Is Your Unwelcome Visitor

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“Olivia” came to Serving People Across Neighborhoods (SPAN) to get food. While our interviewer was packing her groceries, Olivia shared her story.

Olivia had married an abusive husband, who she ended up leaving, and lost most of her possessions in the process. Then she found a lump on her breast. Doctors removed it and assured her she wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

Then she met “Ben.” They fell in love and got married. Both were gainfully employed, and life was good - for a while. However, Olivia started having pain in her back. Many doctor visits later, she was told she had stage-IV breast cancer, and it had spread to her bones, thus the pain in her spine.

Aggressive treatment meant she could no longer work because of all the missed days. Later, she was told it had spread further, to her brain. Money being tight, the couple moved in with Ben’s mother. Then Ben got laid off from his job.

All of our clients have unique stories, but this one was particularly heart-wrenching. Nothing can be taken for granted, because unexpected emergencies happen all the time. Even through her tears, Olivia expressed gratitude for the help we gave her. She was particularly appreciative of the respect and kindness she was shown by SPAN’s volunteers.

To see how you can help your neighbors in need, visit www.spanhelps.org. Your donations to SPAN remain local, staying within 14 zip codes in Anne Arundel County.

Thanks to those who visited our booth at Shoptoberfest last month. Special thanks to Gigi from the Blue Photo Bus and to Amy Theune for her face-painting skills. Our donations for both of these services netted SPAN several hundred dollars (and some food)!

Thanks also to Severn School, which collected food for SPAN during its spirit week. Severn’s classes compete against each other each year to see who can donate the most items, and the result was a record-breaking collection, with over 11,000 items! (And the seniors won!)

SPAN’s biggest fundraiser, the Turkey Trot 5K/1M at Kinder Park, is coming on November 16. Registration is open on www.active.com. Email strideforspan@gmail.com for more information. This is a great community activity, and this year, we welcome two new groups: Shipley’s Choice Elementary School and Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church. Thanks to the following sponsors: SPAN volunteers; Alexander Animal Hospital; Moscker Insurance Agency; Severna Park United Methodist Church; Severn Bank; Severna Park Automotive; Honeybaked Ham of Severna Park; Chick-fil-A of Severna Park; Marathon Real Estate; RockWell Fitness; Julie Antinucci and family; Edward Jones financial advisor Alexis P. Lecouras; Chesapeake Hearing Centers; Fence & Deck Connection Inc.; The Bank of Glen Burnie; Savvy Consignment; Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu & Tai Chi; Dr. Brian Valle, DDS; Severna Park McDonald’s; Russell, Deasey, Wright & Zitofsky, DDS; Wright Orthodontics; Dr. Paul Kinsey, DDS; Café Mezzanotte; Victor and Kathleen Simon; and McCarl Dentistry.

SPAN (Serving People Across Neighborhoods) is a faith-based nonprofit food pantry and emergency services provider that has been helping local families with eviction prevention, utility turnoffs, prescription needs and food since 1990. SPAN serves Severna Park, Millersville, Arnold, Broadneck and other surrounding areas. SPAN is located behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church at 400 Benfield Road. Hours are Monday through Thursday 10:00am-1:30pm. For more information, call 410-647-0889, email spanhelps@yahoo.com, follow SPAN on Facebook, or visit www.spanhelps.org. Financial donations may be made through the website. Food donations may be dropped off 24/7 using the storage bin behind the building.

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