Personal Stories

A Love Affair


Joanne and I were married 46 yrs. We had spent all but 18yrs of our lives growing together. We raised 2 children; attended 7 or more colleges and both received ourocaflovestory degrees after numerous moves. Joanne was by far the smarter, more beautiful and more giving person in this love affair.


Joanne was diagnosed in July, 2003 with stage 3c Ovarian cancer. The prognosis was 6-10 months. She had a complete hysterectomy plus some removal of her intestine in August, 2003. Chemo began after she recovered from that surgery.  Our lives had changed forever!


I came home from a business trip. It was evening; Joanne would usually greet me at the door with a strong hug and kiss. This night she asked me to sit down; she had something to tell me. SHE HAD OVARIAN CANCER! We were scheduled to meet with a Gynecologic Oncologist in the morning. My mind raced, head throbbed and heart pumped but my response was OK, so we will beat this together. We hugged for a long while and talked. Both of us cried together that night.


I typically traveled 3-4 days a week and tried to be home on Monday or Friday or both. This changed, committed to being with Joanne at every doctor’s appointment and chemo treatment, I began planning my schedule around these appointments. I became more protective and far less tolerant of any circumstance that upset or aggravated Joanne. I now became a caregiver, a new role for me. What started becoming more and more apparent to me was my total lack of control of this situation, I couldn’t, “MAKE IT BETTER”. I was helpless and felt that way, yet trying in every instance to show confidence and a positive attitude. It seemed to help Joanne. She was amazing!


The start of the first chemo protocol began well and appeared to be working as the evidence of cancer had diminished. But another problem crept in, scar tissue from the operation had formed around her intestine and prevented normal bowel functions, Joanne was in severe pain. Another operation was a possibility if things didn’t improve…they didn’t. Exacerbating the situation was a terrible tragedy, our youngest grandchild was killed.


Joanne was shattered and her high degree of stress brought on an extreme situation with her already tenuous situation…surgery was rushed. Through this event I was to become a “cheerleader and a sergeant” to Joanne encouraging her to understand that it was God’s will to have Trent with him, she was doing extremely well and at the same time pushing her to get up, be positive and get going “we would beat it!”. She hated the walks…I pushed her; she hated the breathing tubes…I forced her; she didn’t want to get up…I made her…SHE DID IT!!! She got better. During this time I would feel an internal conflict. Caring for her and shielding her from all pain or forcing her to get up and endure the pain…Love made the decision for me. I played the “Boss” as she called me.


Great Fundraising!


ocaf scholarship Dana Sampietro and Don Petri of the OCAF present Nursing Student Katherine Petree with a $5,000 scholarship from the Dana Sampietro Fund and the OCAF. Dana raised significant funds for the OCAF last year during its annual drive in September. The OCAF in honor of Dana’s outstanding achievement voted to provide a nursing student with a scholarship from the Dana Sampietro Funds. Nurses are essential to survivors. It takes a very special person to be a nurse!