Story last updated at 1/14/2009 - 10:37 am
JUNEAU - The entire community is coming together in support for Brenda Krauss and her battle against cancer.
Krauss, 43, noticed a lump near her armpit in early September and was quickly diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Within a few weeks, she had had a biopsy and begun chemotherapy treatments in Seattle.
Since early December, friends, coworkers and community members have been organizing a benefit event to be held Jan. 16 at 6:30 at the ANB hall.
Krauss's mother, Kate Krauss, passed away from brain cancer two years ago. Her father, Ernie Krauss, just celebrated his 80th birthday, but is strugglomg with severe stomach cancer himself. Krauss has been caring for him, as well as single parenting her two sons - Orion, 16, and Theodore, 8.
"I am saddened that I may not be here in Juneau during his great hours of need due to my own cancer treatment," Krauss wrote in an e-mail. "Yet he and I will welcome his friends and acquaintances visiting and checking on his progress. My father, by his own example, gives me courage and understanding on how to live and not feel sorry for myself through great adversity. This is still a great challenge for me - to feel truly at peace."
Cindy Hartman, an acquaintance of Brenda's, was asked by a coworker if she'd help organize the event. Hartman, who had helped with similar benefits before, said the golden rule drove her to help.
"I thought that if ... it happened to me, I'd want someone to do the same thing for me," Hartman said. "You're not able to work and you have all these additional expenses and this unknown of whether you're even going to survive this and what will happen to your sons."
Dozens of other community members offered to help with the event as well.
Another of the organizers, Rita Shannon, who went to school with Krauss, has been successful getting local business to donate auction items.
"I've always known the family," Shannon said. "They're really sweet people. We're all pulling together to do this."
Shannon's husband Paul is in the Thunder Mountain Big Band and the band decided to offer their musical talents to the benefit.
"The Krausses are a longtime Juneau family," Shannon said. "People who live in the community a long time contribute so much to the community. It's nice to give back to (them)."
Krauss received her master's in teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2002 and has worked as a biologist, environmental consultant, naturalist and nature educator. She is currently working with the State of Alaska Division of Water.
In the midst of battling cancer, Krauss is also thinking, along with her son Orion, of ways to educate others about staying cancer free.
"I'd like to have a plan in place, to explain to my children when and how to get tested, starting early than absolutely necessary," Krauss wrote. "It's important to remember that no one method or test may catch the cancer.
"In the case of my father and myself, we didn't pay enough attention to ourselves: when we may have caught our respective cancers earlier, we were mourning for my mother's death in 2006. We didn't have family members to help us think of or follow through on testing. My hope is that people can support each other in groups so that earlier detection increasingly becomes more common."
Krauss will be present at the Jan. 16 benefit and will be returning to Seattle for further treatment shortly thereafter.
"I have high hopes and I am blessed and encouraged by friends, coworkers and acquaintances," Krauss wrote. "I normally don't ask for help and am quiet about my life challenges. It took me my 'alone time' down in Seattle to realize how much I needed the love and support from others - to connect wholeheartedly with community. The Juneau extended community lead me to resources and helped me receive support during my recent times of physical weakness and sickness. I can't begin to say 'thank you' enough!"
The benefit will take place Jan. 16 at ANB Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the gourmet spaghetti dinner will be served from 6:30-8 p.m. The Thunder Mountain Big Band will perform from 8-11 p.m. The benefit is $20 for adults and $10 child 12 and under. Donations may also be made to the Brenda K. Krauss Cancer Recovery Fund at 1st National Bank of Alaska. For more info contact Cindy Hartmann at 789-3259, or Rita Shannon at 789-4836.