By Ana | April 21, 2012
Today, I had the privilege and honor of joining some of my fellow Buckeyes and central Ohioans in walking to celebrate the life and the fight of another Buckeye: Stefanie Spielman.Both Stefanie and her husband, Chris, were Buckeyes and high school sweethearts. Chris played football at my mother’s alma mater, Washington High School, in Massillon, Ohio, then for the Ohio State Buckeyes, then in the NFL (Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, and the Cleveland Browns).
In 1998, at age 30, Stefanie was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Chris left the NFL to support her in her fight. Despite everything she was going through, Stefanie pledged herself and devoted the rest of her life to raising breast cancer awareness and funds for research. Together, she and Chris raised millions of dollars, and eventually founded The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center here at Ohio State. The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research works daily to find a cure, and The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund helps breast cancer patients and their families with the high costs of treatment.
Stefanie passed away in fall 2009 at age 42 during her fifth battle with breast cancer. She left her family, friends, and everyone whose lives she had touched, with one final thought: “continue to fight.”
And fight they have.
Chris continues to raise awareness and funds for research, as of now, about $10 million. Before the walk began, both he and one of his daughters spoke to us about Stefanie, and how proud she would have been to see Buckeyes united against breast cancer. She told Chris shortly before her death, “I don’t want any of you to use my death as an excuse for anything, but motivation for everything.”
That’s exactly why I wanted to walk–not just for Stefanie, but for every woman who has come before and will come after, fighting breast cancer. Someday, it could be my sister, my best friend, or even me.
We refused to be deterred by the cold or the rain this morning. After all, cancer isn’t, either. Breast cancer does not care where you come from, where you live, where you went to school, the way you look, or how much money you have in the bank. And when you have cancer, all of those things stop mattering anyway.
As Stefanie said, “I cannot let this get the best of me, and I will not let this ruin the rest of my life–no matter how long it is.”
Stefanie is the kind of woman I hope to become one day: compassionate, resilient, positive in spite of adversity, and grateful for the time given. She turned something awful into hope, not only for herself, but for the countless women and their families who can continue to fight because of the Stefanie Spielman Fund.
To help support the fund, visit www.spielmanfund.com or call (614) 293-3744. I did, and I hope you will, too.
For more information, visit: