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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published February 14, 2008                                                          

Couples spend enchanted
night at Wellness

By Pamela Lannom

   Bird Ryan and his wife, Terry, enjoyed a special night Friday in a place he helped build.
   More than 15 years ago when Wellness House was constructed, Ryan volunteered his time to install the elevator. He had no particular connection to cancer.
   “It seemed like a great community service thing to do,” he said.
   Now Bird, who is being treated for colon cancer, participates in Wellness House programs. He and Terry particularly enjoyed Some Enchanted Evening, a special Valentine’s Day dinner for couples.
   “The event was fabulous,” Bird said. “We got to meet a lot of the other people behind the scenes — quite a few of the board members, the people that work there during the day.”
   In addition to good company, the Ryans enjoyed good food. They each chose a different entree so they could sample the parmesan crusted chicken and the cheese ravioli. They appreciated listening to the live music.
   “They just put on a fabulous evening for couples to help them try to reconnect,” Bird said.
   Linda and Steve Scamardi probably wouldn’t have gone out for a Valentine’s Day dinner if they had not been invited to Some Enchanted Evening.
   “People that are going through cancer and all of that are usually stuck in a position where they don’t get out very much,” Steve said. “This was just a real nice night for us to be able to do that. It was wonderful. They had a nice dinner and music and it was a real nice time.”
   Linda, who has been coping with ovarian cancer since last fall, said everyone at the dinner was made to feel special.
   “They didn’t miss anything from the time we got there. They had valet parking. Then we had hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail hour. We had our own individual table that had candlelight and flowers. Whatever you wanted, they were they to help you.
   “They treated everyone at each table like they were the only one there and just made it a special night for everybody,” she said.
   The care and kindness demonstrated at Some Enchanted Evening are typical of how Wellness House staff treat participants, the couples said.
   “I didn’t know them from beans and they’ve treated myself and my family very well,” Bird said. “I hope to get back to work someday, but for now its nice to know that I can go over there and talk ... and the kids can go over there and talk.”
   Linda cared for her mother before she died from endometrial cancer 12 years ago, so she’s grateful her husband has a place to go to talk about his feelings. And the programs they’ve attended have helped them cope with other tough situations, such as the recent loss of Steve’s father.
   “A lot of the classes that we’ve been going to for support for cancer are really life lessons and life support for you in general,” she said.
   As grateful as Bird is to the friends and neighbors who have helped his family in so many ways, he appreciates the opportunity to talk with other people who know exactly what he’s going through. He also appreciates the unforeseen benefits of his offer to install the elevator so many years ago.
   “If I was to say 15 years ago that I would be using the Wellness House for myself I would have been shocked,” he said. “In a way, it’s all one big circle.”

— Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and Wellness House to increase awareness about the organization,
which works to encourage, educate and emotionally support people
working to overcome the affects of cancer in their work.



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