Do the "Wave"

Nominating Wavelene Arnold to participate in Cleveland's Crucial Catch

My Mom Rocks.

Ask anyone. My mom, Wavelene, known to most as "Wave," is a pretty cool person, not to mention extraordinarily strong, compassionate, loving, and one of the biggest football fans around. The picture above are just a few of my mom's supporters, her army. Just weeks after her diagnosis the women of our church (and one brave man!) put on their pink as a pledge to help my mom throughout her battle with breast cancer. Keep reading to find out just how my mom, and our community have fought with all of our might.

Not Again...

10 years before my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, we lost my dad to lung cancer, the result of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam Conflict. My dad was a powerful presence in our family, and we miss him everyday. But rather than telling you about his death, I'll tell you about the life he and my mom built together.

My dad had been a Browns fan his whole life. He visited his grandparents and went to vocational school in Cleveland and trained at Lincoln Electric. My mom tells the story that the weekend my parents were married, they had to watch the Browns game before hitting the road for their honeymoon. That day, my mom became a Browns fan, too.

I remember childhood Sundays so clearly. Pots of soup, me decked out in Browns t-shirts with a dog-bone-shaped cookie from the local bakery to munch on during the game.

A veteran, a welder and a Browns fan, my father taught me about the value of hard work, the importance of a Sunday meal and the need for a sense of humor.

After he died, my mom taught me even more. She was my rock. She continued to work full time as a pharmacy technician at Salem Community Hospital, where she is still employed. She helped me through college. She used her strength not just to survive her loss, but to build a stronger community.

Rockin' the Relay

Along with serving on the hospital's charitable contributions committee, my mom began co-chairing the hospital's Relay for Life team after my dad's diagnosis. Every year, she and her co-chair would attend meetings, plan spaghetti dinners, and golf outings to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. This summer marked her eleventh Relay experience.


In October of 2011 my mom found a small lump in her breast and made an appointment with her doctor, who then scheduled a mammogram. After a biopsy, and lumpectomy, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer with no lymphnode involvement. However, testing showed that she is triple positive, and that her particular type of cancer is more prone to return within five years. Within a matter of weeks, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, regular doses of herceptin and radiation therapy were prescribed. My mom recently underwent her last dose of radiation, but she will continue to receive herceptin and oral chemo treatments for several years. To say that my mom's body and mind have been through a lot in the last year would be an understatement.

Despite the physical trauma, my mom's spirit never broke. Yes, she had bad days, but even at her lowest points, she found a way to give back.

Doin' the Wave

So what do I mean by "doin' the Wave?" I think the photo above sums it up pretty well. There's my mom, head scarf and all, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Doin' the Wave is about facing an adverse situation, making the best of your life, and helping others along the way.

More than the fight for her life, more than her strength, more than anything, I am proud of my mom for her next project. On October 12, she will be the keynote speaker at Salem Community Hospital's "Putting on the Pink." There, she will launch her own special program for employee/patient advocacy.

During her battle with cancer, she found that the most helpful healthcare professionals were those who had experienced cancer and treatment themselves. This new advocacy program will organize the efforts of these survivors to help other patients deal with every aspect of cancer, including healthy living tips, support for care-givers and simply sharing their own experiences.

Finding Joy

While my mom's attitude has always been positive, it has been a difficult year for our family. After losing so much to a disease and giving so much to others, we're reaching out to the NFL to help my mom find some joy again by participating in the Crucial Catch.

And in case anyone may doubt her dedication to the Browns, check out her Fantasy Football Team. SIPE 17!

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