May 01, 2013 - Those who give must also be willing to receive, that's the lesson lifetime Oxford resident and business owner Laura Lee has had to learn.
Salon owner Laura Lee is battling cancer. (click for larger version)
Lee, who's always been a very independent woman and giving to others, realized she, was going to have to ask for some help after being diagnosed earlier this year with cancer.
"I can't tell how many gift certificates (from my hair salon) I've given out for different things. I've also done cancer benefits for other people and I don't charge when I DJ for that. I've done child abuse benefit and I never charge I just offer my time," she said. "I just thought now it's my turn and I need help."
To help with medical expenses not covered by insurance friends and family are throwing Lee a benefit party on May 4 at the America Legion Post 108, located at 130 E. Drahner Road from Noon to midnight. The admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
The event will include food munchies from noon until 3 p.m. and an all you can eat dinner buffet from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dinner for adults is $18 and for kids under 10 is $7. Dinner entrees will be ribs, chicken, pulled pork, sausage Sides will be potatoes, salad, veggies and more. Desserts will also be available.
There will also be auctions and Chinese auctions of items donated from local businesses, along with 50/50 raffles and various game prizes. Lee will also be the DJ with songs for Karaoke, which will include a $2 per song donation after 8 p.m. Donations can also be made to Laura Lee P.O. Box 114 Oxford, MI 48371.
Lee said there were no signs of cancer. She said the only reason she found out she had it was because she fell going up the stairs in her house last December.
"It kept hurting more and more every day," she said. "I thought maybe it was an infection or I broke something."
In early Jan. Lee finally made the doctor appointment and that was when she found out about the cancer.
"I just couldn't believe it. I went to another opinion and they said the same thing," she said. "I thank the good Lord from above that I fell because I wouldn't know right now probably. Because they think when I fell I agitated an underline condition."
Once Lee had accepted the truth of her condition she decided she wanted the "best people in the business" helping her, which is why she chose Cancer Centers of America (CTCA) located in Zion Illinois.
"In Michigan, doctors wanted me on chemo right away, but the doctors at CTCA had another option for me," she said. "After my evaluation by them they knew the type of cancer I have and had a different approach for my treatment."
Even though CTCA was out of her healthcare network, Lee said they agreed to accept her Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield and honor it as if it was in network.
"I'm so glad I went out to CTCA for evaluation. They paid everything for me and my caregiver to fly out, stay in a hotel with three meals a day for a week during my evaluation," she said. "They also pay for all my travel expenses every time I have to go back and forth, everyone who works there is so nice and caring."
If anyone has cancer, Lee believes CTCA is worth checking out. While at CTCA, she said she met a man from Texas who was told he had cancer of the liver, but after evaluation by CTCA, he found he didn't have any, which was what Lee was praying for herself.
"No such luck – they confirmed my cancer to be real," she said. "So, the fight begins."
Lee said she was discouraged at first because she had always taken such good care of herself. "Growing up through school I was very athletic," she said. "People always joked and called me the 'Vitamin Queen of Oxford' because I'm always sucking down vitamins and (cancer) still happened to me."
However, doctors told her that being in such good shape was a blessing, because of having such a built up immune system it will help with the fight and recovery.
"Though they said it will be hard, they don't think it will be as rough as other people," she said. "Thank God I took care of myself all these years."
Lee said she has another reason to fight and that is for her son and daughter-in-law Derrick Lee Whitaker and Michelle Whitaker.
"I'm not a grandma yet, but I can't wait to be one," she said with a smile.
While on the road to recovery, the 1982 Oxford graduate said she is going to have to make some career changes. Lee said she has been cutting hair at her shop Laura Lee's Salon next to Patterson's Pharmacy full-time for 16 years and recently been doing her side business Laura Lee Styles DJ/Karaoke entertainment for the past four years. She said she will probably have to switch those roles around.
"After my surgery I'm not sure when I can do hair again, so I'm looking to work my DJ business more often to help support myself during my recovery," she said. "I'm also looking to book more jobs singing to the elderly in assisted living homes as soon as I am up and running."
As for the upcoming benefit Lee is thankful for Chuck Stoner and the members of American Legion Post 108, her sister Cindy Bozied and Angie Boberg, and to the businesses who donated items for the benefit. Lastly, she is thankful for any and all community members who have helped her along the way by showing her they care.
"I can't believe how this community steps up to help you – I love my hometown," she said. "I will be forever grateful to each and every person who has helped me so much. God bless all of you."
Those interested in donating to the benefit or want more information call Laura Lee at 248-628-2324 or Chuck Stoner at 248-821-5320.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.