06/30/2008 05:00PM, Published by Super Admin, Categories: In Print
Those words written by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneering psychiatrist in the field of bereavement, describe Heidi Wieser but don’t encapsulate either the woman or her world, the latter of which has been extraordinarily marked by tragedy and triumph. A registered nurse, Wieser has helped treat oncology and bone marrow transplant patients for nearly 20 years. Her career aspirations began at the behest of her then ailing 43-year-old father, who, afflicted with and dying from cancer, requested that she become a nurse. The legacy of Wieser’s father lives on through the lives that his daughter continues to touch. Fortunately and unfortunately, there are many.
In addition to losing her father, godmother and countless patients to cancer, Wieser’s high school sweetheart, Tom, now her husband and father of her four children, is also afflicted with the disease. Armed with a deep reserve of experiences, she has penned these profound words: “Cancer is a radiant disease. It attacks the one afflicted, their family, and their friends. It attacks without regard to race, to age, or to familial history.” To help adult cancer victims and their families, Wieser founded the Me-One Foundation – a local nonprofit that, according to the organization’s Web site, was “created to provide adult cancer patients and their families with an environment where they can be allowed to embrace life without cancer as the first and foremost thought of every waking moment.”
The mission of Me-One is achieved through Camp Challenge, a week of respite and recreation for cancer victims and their families. Free to all who attend, the camp’s inaugural week will take place September 12-14, 2008, at Camp Arroyo in Livermore. The camp promises to help ease the burdens that cancer families are forced to endure on a daily basis, by providing them with a variety of preoccupying activities that include music, arts and crafts, magicians, nature walks, rope courses and zip lines, as well as drum circles and spa services. An eternal optimist, Wieser is always looking ahead to the future and hopes that for her foundation it includes multiple Camp Challenges. Her hopes for expansion include two camps in 2009, and five by 2010.
If you think Me-One’s sage founder and president is focused solely on loss, then you’ve yet to learn what she’s gained – perspective. “The foundation is a way for me to give back to so many that have helped me over the years,” says Wieser, who has much to teach us about cancer, mortality and thriving. “I will not allow cancer to take away from me; I will only allow cancer to give to me,” she continues. “Death is certain but life should never be taken for granted. It can change in a single breath, but it is up to us to make it for the best, not the worst.”
For more information on the Me-one Foundation, call 916-781-6457 or visit <A href="http://events.cancer.org/rflfolsomca" target="_blank">visit me-onefoundation.org</A>.