It's a role Stacey Fromm never expected to play yet, she's come to embrace it.
Fromm is a breast cancer survivor and the 2019 Relay for Life for Stevens County Honorary Ambassador. The Relay for Life is Friday, July 12, in Morris. Fromm was diagnosed in 2016 and was found to be cancer free in 2017.
"Some of this is outside my comfort zone. I don't like public speaking but when they asked me to be an ambassador I did it because I figured everyone has a story to tell," Fromm said. "I decided to embrace it...we all need each other."
But Fromm has already been sharing her story with other women who have been diagnosed with cancer. Since she started her treatment, she's been contacted by other women. Fromm said she's been willing to talk and encourage them.
Some women have had specific questions about an option Fromm used during her cancer treatment.
Fromm was one of the first women to use cold capping as part of her treatment through her doctors in Alexandria.
"Cold capping allowed me to keep my hair," Fromm said.
Cold capping is helmet that fits tightly around the head and is chilled to below zero temperatures. When Fromm did it, only the manual method was available at the hospital. The hospital now has a machine method.
When the medical staff asked Fromm if she could be contacted by other women, she agreed.
For Fromm, keeping her hair during cancer treatment wasn't a choice from vanity but of comfort. She and her husband C.J.'s two daughters, Reagan and Aliana, often fuss and play with their mother's hair.
They even played a game called "Rapunzel" where Fromm let down her hair.
The youngest daughter still strokes her mom's hair to relax.
If Fromm could keep her hair from falling out it would be a way for her kids and her family to stay as comfortable as possible during her cancer treatment.
Cold capping also became an unexpected source of intimacy between husband and wife. The pair own and operate the Met Lounge in Morris. The business requires day, night, and weekend work. When you add in raising two daughters, they didn't always have much time as a couple.
"My chemo days, when C.J. had to go, were like date days," Fromm said. The two traveled to Alexandria for her chemotherapy.
Cold capping still required dry ice to keep it cool when Fromm as using the method. "On our drive home, he had to change the cold cap (several times)," Fromm said. The couple had to stop. C.J. had to remove the cap, fill it with dry ice and place the cap on her head.
Fromm had chemotherapy on Mondays every three weeks followed by radiation. Her lumpectomy in which the cancerous portion of the breast was removed, was on Sept. 12, 2016 and she started chemotherapy on Oct. 10, 2016, her daughter's fifth birthday.
Fromm said she and C.J. are private people so when she was diagnosed with breast cancer she wanted to keep the family and business routine as normal as possible. She is the main cook and cleaner at the Met. She only missed two or three days of work during her cancer treatment. And while things continued on a somewhat normal pace, friends and family were there to support them.
Fromm said she and C.J. learned to be more accepting of help. They were overwhelmed when members of the community brought food, or mowed the lawn or did other things to help the family. The fire department where C.J. is a member organized a benefit for Fromm.
"I've always been the kind of person that keeps my head down and goes to work," Fromm said. "I realized that people know who I am and do care about me. It touched my heart that people do care."
Fromm is returning that kindness by speaking with other women who have cancer. Sometimes, she may even share a short story when people notice her surgery scar or her scar from port installed for medication.
"They are a constant reminder of (appreciating) being healthy and being here in the present," Fromm said.
Relay for Life Schedule
The Relay for Life Stevens County runs from 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday, July 12, at the Lee Community Center. Meal served from 5 to 7 p.m. with a break during the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
6:30 p.m. - Survivor/caregiver walk and announcement of Paint the Town Purple award
8:30 p.m.- Closing of the silent auction
9 p.m. - Luminaria ceremony and announcment of campsite winners
10 p.m. - Quilt drawing
11:45 p.m. - Closing ceremony
Midnight - wrap up an clean up
Food and team activities will be available at several team campsites