March 2012

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work to inspire Someone You Should Know: By Elishah Oesch Th ey're some of the scariest words you can hear: "You have cancer." Sadly, these words are spoken to people in our community daily. In fact, according to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, each day around 81 people in Wisconsin hear them. And while Suzanne Litscher can't take the fear of a cancer battle away, she does offer her own bit of comfort during the long fi ght. Litscher has a passion for knitting. She does everything, from raising the Alpacas where the fi ber comes from, to cleaning and spinning yarn and then knitting the different pieces together. In fact, she spends most of her free time knitting and spinning. "I'm addicted to it!" she admits. In recent years, she's taken her passion and turned it into a Suzanne Litscher Warming the hearts (and heads) of those battling cancer mission. It all started with a realization. "You can only make so many things for family," she says. So she looked for others to help. As she spends her days in a lab at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, it didn't take long for Litscher to realize that the hats, gloves and scarves she makes are particularly warm and soft—a combination perfect for those going through chemotherapy. It's a treatment that many cancer patients face, and brings with it a side effect of hair loss. A sad experience for both children and adult patients with cancer, women who undergo chemotherapy often struggle with losing a part of their body that makes them feel uniquely feminine. Litscher's offering is simple: a beautiful and comfortable hat. Th e hope is that each woman who wears one can in some small way retain an invaluable piece of who they are. Betty Boehmen, a 13-year breast cancer patient, knows how big such a small comfort can be. Boehmen was hand-delivered a hat and gloves from Litscher. She wears them night and day. "[Even] in the house because it keeps me warmer," she says. Boehmen says that not only has the hat brought her comfort, but knowing that a complete stranger made it has helped her feel even more supported. "It gives you...I can't explain it," she says. "It's just an overjoy- ing feeling." Th anks to Litscher's efforts, it's a feeling that hundreds of cancer patients both locally and throughout the nation now share. Her desire to help has spread through word of mouth, and she brings the hats to local hospitals herself and has had others send them as far as New York. To be ready when she's needed, Litscher knits year-round, most often holding onto them until the cooler months of the year. Th ough she says making the hats is relaxing, she admits that the process—which requires a lot of effort, time and money—is not always easy. To date, Litscher has spent upwards of $1,500 to make and give away the hats. And since she does the entire process by hand, she can only turn out two to four hats in a weekend. Never- theless, she recognizes that the money and the time are not what's important. It's about the people she's helping. "With a cancer patient, their future is uncertain and so each hat puts a smile on their face," she says. Litscher plans to continue making hats for cancer patients as long Elishah Oesch is co-anchor of WKOW27's Wake Up Wisconsin. Find more about Litscher on the Someone You Should Know page at ••• Cancer Support: A sampling of local resources providing non-medical support American Cancer Society: Offers patient navigators to help patients learn more about programs to help with medical assistance and assistance paying for travel, lodging, wigs and more. (800) ACS-2345 or 38 BRAVA Magazine Gilda's Club of Madison: Offers support and events for all those impacted by cancer, from the patients themselves to family, friends and colleagues. (608) 828-8880 or March 2012 Positive Image Center: Located within the American Family Children's Hospital, children can fi nd wigs, hats, scarves and skin treatments just for them. (608) 890-8166 or Treatment Access Fund: Part of the Wisconsin Well Women Program, this helps cover cost-of-living expenses for qualifi ed patients. (608) 242-6392 or public grams/taf.cfm as she can because she knows what Boehmen knows: "What goes around comes around. You do good for people and it comes back to you triple or more fold." UW Health CareWear & Wigs: A boutique within UW Hospital offering products for cancer patients including breast prostheses, natural eyebrows, wigs, headscarves and more. (608) 262-2609 and (608) 266-6025 or Photo by Shanna Wolf

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