The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 7, 2012

Benefit to help mother with cancer


DANVILLE — Amy Sandmeyer is trying to create good memories for her 12-year-old sister, Anna Sullivan. She hopes a benefit this weekend for their mother, Betty Sullivan, will help ease the family’s financial burden and show how much support there is for her.

The mother was diagnosed with breast cancer after Anna was born, and went through five years of treatment. Then, two years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, breast cancer and macular degeneration.

A benefit for Sullivan, 53, will be from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the Moose Lodge, off U.S. Route 150. There will be a basket auction, bake sale, food, face painting, caricature drawing, 50/50 drawing and a deejay. Freewill donations will be taken, and tickets for the raffle will be sold.

The benefit will be family-friendly, with activities for children.

Referring to Anna, Sandmeyer said, “I want her to have something good to remember out of all of this.”

Sandmeyer hopes a lot of people show up — even those who don’t know her mother, adding, “Let’s let her know we’re here to support her.”

“She’s a sweet person. She’d do anything for anyone,” Sandmeyer said. “She stayed home and raised five kids.”

In fact, Sullivan is worried about her family and what’s going to happen if she’s not around to support them emotionally. Four of her children are grown; Anna remains at home, and is a student at Westville Junior High School.

Longtime friend and neighbor Kelly Coultas agreed that Sullivan has always put her children and 14 grandchildren first.

“She’d give the shirt off her back to her friends and family, and she never complains,” Coultas said. “She’s a wonderful person.”

When Coultas had surgeries and when her own mother died, Sullivan would come over with her oxygen and sit with her. “You couldn’t ask for a better person,” Coultas said.

Sandmeyer said her mother suffered from emphysema, and blamed that for shortness of breath a couple of years ago. However, when she turned blue, she was taken to the hospital and doctors discovered she had lung cancer. She started treatment for that, and then it was discovered that her breast cancer had returned.

“It’s been really hectic over the last two years. It’s been a battle ever since,” Sullivan said.

Her mother has been holding her own, and is undergoing treatment for the cancers. She also gets shots in her eyes to keep from going blind, due to the macular degeneration.

Sullivan is being treated at the Cancer Center at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center. Last year, the staff surprised the family with donations and gifts for Christmas, Sandmeyer said.

Sandmeyer said people and businesses have been generous by making donations for the benefit. She plans to use the proceeds to pay for medical expenses that aren’t covered. When Sullivan got out of the hospital recently, she came home and discovered her refrigerator had gone out, and all of the food had spoiled. The family hopes to get her a new refrigerator, which is needed for some medication.

“We’re doing what we can,” Sandmeyer said, “and we’re grateful for whatever we can do.”

Sullivan plans to attend the benefit.