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Cancer Awareness 2005

Donna G

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Here is an article about my town working on a cancer awareness event in our Mall. I am on the committee. It is shaping up and I am getting excited. Connie and many from our Lung Cancer Support group are coming and manning a table with other support groups. We will have speakers on early detection, prevention, coping etc.

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincitie ... 158189.htm

Cancer becomes her cause

City's mayor, a two-time survivor, launches awareness campaign


Pioneer Press

In the midst of a jam-packed schedule, Elizabeth Kautz used to sneak away from City Hall and work duties.

Not many people would have guessed that the Burnsville mayor was seeking treatment for a life-threatening illness. Kautz, 58, is a two-time cancer survivor who kept her sickness under wraps, except with close family and friends — until now. After recovering, Kautz is more willing to tell her story as she prepares for a major cancer awareness campaign in the city.

"I want to do this to bring awareness to our community — to bring services and support groups," Kautz said. "I want people to know that they're not alone in this and to let them know that it doesn't have to be so difficult."

She has joined Fairview Ridges Hospital and Burnsville Center to hold the campaign. On Friday, the campaign kicked off with TV promotions on the city's community Channel 15. Informational segments in which the mayor and hospital and shopping center officials interview health professionals about cancer are scheduled for coming weeks. A day of panels, workshops and discussion groups for cancer patients, family members and others interested in the topic is set for Oct. 6 at Burnsville Center.

Kautz was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 1992 and breast cancer in 2000. It was during the second episode that she came up with the idea to offer resources and support groups for the community.

Kautz was in an Edina hospital waiting room and began comparing notes with other cancer patients. She found herself surrounded by five other Burnsville residents who complained about how far they had to travel to get radiation treatments, which sometimes required daily visits for several weeks to several months.

She became outspoken about the lack of resources near Burnsville and worked to bring them closer to home. These days, she's happy to say oncology and radiation services are now available in the city.

"She has been extremely instrumental in helping us bring services to the community by recognizing the issue that cancer patients face," said Sara Criger, president of Fairview Ridges Hospital and Clinics, which offers screening, prevention and radiation services.

This is the second cancer awareness event Kautz has organized. In 2001, she hosted a more intimate gathering with participants hearing about the event by word of mouth. Featured speakers gave advice about cancer prevention and offered places to get help.

Now, as Kautz prepares for this larger campaign, she is sharing her story with the public and trying to make sure her efforts are distinguished from other cancer campaigns.

"It's not a fundraiser. This is giving service to the community," she said. "What this does is brings public service and awareness."

Panels and workshops will bring in health experts to discuss cancer prevention as well as treatment.

"For me, early detection was my saving grace in both occurrences," said Kautz, who also is the executive vice president of Hartford Group real estate company.

Apple Valley resident Betty McNeill is a breast cancer survivor who was part of the first campaign. This week, she was reminded of how important the education and resources offered in the campaign can be after attending a funeral for a family member who died of stomach cancer.

"For me, it was good to hear other stories from other people and what they've gone through," she said. "Family members are going through this, too, and they really don't know what to do. It is quite a journey … it just takes so much out of you physically and emotionally."

Kautz, a former pastoral minister at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage, said the cancer episodes have altered her take on life.

She cherishes time with her husband, David, who was her college sweetheart, and their two sons, Kyle, 30, and Kevin, 28. She also exercises every day and eats meals rich with dark-green vegetables and salads. And her outlook has changed.

Every day Kautz wears two gold pins near her heart to remind her of why she forges ahead. One is of a dove, which stands for peace, and another is a gold starfish, the symbol for making a difference in a story by Loren Eisley.

"I've always been a very spiritual person," she said. "Now there's always this sense of urgency. I'm always aware that each day is very precious, and I try every day to make a difference."

We have already started some local TV programming about it. Donna G

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