The Suburbanite
  • About Books: One Book, One Community will echo Stefanie Spielman's respect for caregivers

  • In the headline atop her essay about her father as a caregiver during her battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Stephanie Skemp called him “My Reluctant Angel.”

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  • In the headline atop her essay about her father as a caregiver during her battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Stephanie Skemp called him “My Reluctant Angel.”
    Her father was with her on the day in 2001 when she received the news, “and would continue to be with me during the entire horrible ordeal.”
    Skemp’s story was submitted to the One Book, One Community reading program, which this year chose the book “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story,” which was written by Chris Spielman with Bruce Hooley. In his heartfelt memoir, Spielman writes about his wife Stefanie’s battle against breast cancer and his role as a caregiver in the midst of his professional football career.
    The One Book, One Community planning committee, organized through the Mayor’s Literacy Commission, is collecting local caregiver stories to be recognized at an October program.
    Skemp’s father, Charles Skemp, was 71, retired and living in Canton when his daughter began undergoing treatment in Pittsburgh.
    “Dad closed up his home, asked his neighbors to collect his mail, and went home for a day or so at a time about once a month to catch up on bills,” wrote Skemp. “Dad was at the hospital with me every single lousy day and spent long hours doing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, watching television or conversing with me, and, of course, making sure that I was comfortable.
    “There were times when I was awake enough that I would urge him to take a break, and get something to eat or drink,” she wrote in her story. “I used to have to tell him that he could go home in the evening, too, and he’d always kiss me and say, ‘See you in the morning’ and ‘Do you want me to bring you anything?’”
    Charles Skemp tired, to be sure. He had lost his wife to cancer only seven years before, his daughter explained in her writing. He had been her primary caregiver as well.
    But, he stayed with his daughter and learned to give her IV fluids daily during the time of her bone marrow transplant.
    “Even after the cancer returned and I had to have another transplant, dad remained steadfast,” she wrote.
    Stephanie Skemp’s father died in 2009.
    “Without his loving care I wouldn’t be alive today.”
    “Celebrating Champions: Our Personal Caregivers” will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Jackson High School’s Center for the Performing Arts. Stefanie Spielman attended Jackson High School.
    Skemp’s story will be part of that program, during which local caregivers will be honored.
    The program is an outgrowth of Stefanie Spielman’s own focus on individuals such as her husband, who stand by loved ones who are battling cancer. Sue Fitz, Stefanie Spielman’s sister, will be one of the speakers.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Stefanie regularly spoke of personal caregivers — family and friends — as her ‘champions,’ ” notes information from One Book, One Community.
    Send your stories
    One Book planners are seeking stories of 500 words or less telling how personal caregivers have played an invaluable role in the cancer treatments of their loved ones. Send information and a photo of the caregiver to literacycommission@gmail.com. Deadline to submit caregiver stories is Sept. 15.
    One Book, One Community program schedule
    Special Tuesday events
    • Oct. 2, 7 p.m. — “Kicking Off With Chris Spielman” talk by author (book signing from 5:30 to 6:45); Malone University’s Johnson Center auditorium, 2600 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton.
    • Oct. 9, 7 p.m. — “Tackling Breast Cancer ... More Than Pink Ribbons” panel discussion about breast cancer awareness, prevention and treatment; Stark County District Library’s McKinley Room, 715 Market Ave. N, Canton.
    • Oct. 16, 7 p.m. — “Catching the Spirit of Heroism” roundtable discussion of heroism shown in the story of Chris and Stefanie Spielman; Malone University’s Johnson Center Dining Room, 2600 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton.
    • Oct. 22, 7 p.m. — “Celebrating Champions: Our Personal Caregivers” recognition of local personal caregivers; Jackson High School’s Center for the Performing Arts, 7600 Fulton Drive NW, Jackson Township.
    • Oct. 30, 7 p.m. — “Huddling With Hooley” talk by author (book signing from 8 to 8:45 p.m.); dance by Canton Ballet will honor Stefanie Spielman’s love of ballet; Stark County District Library atrium, 715 Market Ave. N, Canton.
    Book Discussions
    • Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m., North Branch Library, 189 25th St. NW, Canton
    • Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m., Lake Branch Library, 11955 Market Ave. NW, Lake Township
    • Oct. 1, 2 p.m., North Canton Public Library, 185 N. Main Street, North Canton
    • Oct. 1, 6 p.m., Sandy Valley Branch Library, 9754 Cleveland Ave. SE, Magnolia
    • Oct. 4, 6 p.m., Perry Sippo Branch Library, 5710 12th St. NW, Perry Township
    • Oct. 4, 6 p.m., Jackson Branch Library, 7487 Fulton Drive NW, Jackson Township
    • Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m., Minerva Public Library, 677 Lynnwood Drive, Minerva
    • Oct. 9, 7 p.m., East Canton Branch Library, 224 N. Wood St., East Canton
    • Oct. 9, 7 p.m., Canal Fulton Public Library, 154 Market St. E, Canal Fulton
    • Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m., Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon
    • Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m., Louisville Public Library, 700 Lincoln Ave., Louisville
    • Oct. 23, 4 p.m., DeHoff Branch Library, 216 Hartford Ave. SE, Canton
    • Oct. 31, 11 a.m., Madge Youtz Branch, 2921 Mahoning Road NE, Canton

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