Jennifer and Audrey Wenzke don’t take time for granted after Audrey was diagnosed with lymphoma. She is now cancer free and back to normal life.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jennifer Wentzke and her 14-year-old daughter, Audrey, don’t take their time together for granted. They know that one phone call can change everything.
For the Wentzke family, it was a call from the pediatrician’s office.
“He called and said, ‘We’re pretty sure Audrey has lymphoma,'” Jennifer recalled. “Your world stops.”
About nine months before Audrey was diagnosed with primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, Jennifer noticed something was wrong with Audrey.
“No big deal, she’s tired. She was losing a little weight. That’s it,” Jennifer said.
Even after many visits to different doctors, they never expected to hear the word cancer.
“We needed to hear that everything was going to be okay. People are here to help you. We just needed the hug of someone who felt what we felt, because very few people ever feel what it’s like. The hopelessness, the confusion, the fear, all of it,” said Jennifer.
Fortunately, there is an organization that knows how it feels when a child is diagnosed with cancer. Nelly’s Champions for Kidsalso known as NC4K, is a non-profit organization that supports families with a child battling cancer.
“I was scared,” Audrey said. “I knew I would get better, but I didn’t expect it to get this bad, this fast.”
NC4K was able to bring some holiday cheer to the Wentzke family at their most difficult time. At Christmas, volunteers came to their house to decorate the Christmas rooms and get gifts for the children. The family still keeps the Christmas tree on the back deck because it brings them comfort.
“This community spirit helps them to have hope and helps them know that no matter where they look, there is someone there to support them,” said Mandy Powell, NC4K’s executive director.
NC4K provides not only financial assistance, but also emotional and recreational assistance. Their influence is enhanced when they team up with a local corporate partner. So NC4K has teamed up with Northwestern Mutual to continue the fight against childhood cancer.
“Northwest Mutual is already passionate about childhood cancer with the support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand. When our paths crossed, it became this dynamic opportunity,” Powell said.
“I think it’s really important for companies like ours to give back to local charities because those are the communities we serve and they’re doing great work,” said Ryan Rango of Northwestern Mutual.
Audrey is now cancer free and is slowly getting back to normal. But she is not the girl she was before the diagnosis.
“I feel like it’s made me more mature,” Audrey told 10TV. “I understand a little more. It just gives you a little more empathy.”
Northwestern Mutual will host its fourth annual Scramble for a Cure golf tournament on Monday, May 22 at Jefferson Country Club in Blacklick.
The event is a childhood cancer fundraiser and benefits both Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and NC4K.