Ralphj Hannie has valiantly battled ovarian cancer, but learned the chemotherapy treatment was no longer working. Moreover, she has exhausted all conventional treatment options at Northwestern.
Hannie has been told she has a year to live.
So, the Chicago resident is going to Mexico for a procedure called Gerson Therapy.
"When hearing the news she only had a year to live, she was not ready to end the fight," said close friend Sam Hamilton.
Hannie is going to the Chipsa Medical Center, where Dr. Rebecca Lopez will be in charge. Lopez told Hannie that she'd be a good candidate for the therapy, based on the medical records Lopez received from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The cancer has not spread to her organs.
"The Gerson Therapy will help raise the immune system to help fight the bad cancer cells," Hamilton said. "They will administer moderate therapy for three weeks, starting May 3. They feel this will greatly improve her health and very often it has slowed down or stopped the cancer growth. We hope and pray this will help Ralphj."
Hannie was born on a reservation in Wisconsin to the Menominee Tribe March 23, 1960. She lived there until the age of 4, and then moved to Chicago with her family. She is the oldest of six girls. Hannie and her partner of 18 years, Janice Kohl, live in Lincoln Square.
"They are both pillars of the community, donating time and money for many local causes and personal causes for friends and family," Hamilton said. "Ralphj is an inspiration to everyone and has a heart of gold. Everyone who has been surrounded by her presence has nothing but good things to say such as, light spirited, a loving and giving heart."
Hamilton, 39, is a graphic designer technician and lives in the Portage Park neighborhood. Hamilton and Hannie were co-workers at Spyners Pub. Interestingly, they share the same birthday: March 23.
"It's always heart-wrenching when someone is suffering from a disease," Hamilton said. "I want her to know she has our love and support.
"It is in giving that we receive. To give love and support to such a beautiful person in their most difficult time is truly an honor. What I have got out of this is a great friend. What else could I ask for?"
That's why Hamilton and others formed a fundraising committee: Friends 4 Ralphj 4 Life, committed to helping Hannie battle her cancer.
"Friends 4 Ralphj 4 Life came together in love, support and unity to help Ralphj reach her higher goal of battling this disease. With our love and support from many people, great things can happen."
Said Hannie: "When walking the path of life, speak truthfully and you will never miss a step."
Spyners Pub owner Maureen Sullivan has been friends with Hannie for about 25 years, and Hannie has worked there for about 20 years. Sullivan has paid Hannie's rent and will be paying for her first week of treatment in Mexico.
The Friends 4 Ralphj 4 Life fund has raised more than $18,000. But more is needed for Hannie. Much more. So several fundraisers are planned, anchored by a Ralphj fundraising weekend, April 29-May 1. The events are:
Dinner for Ralphj on April 29, starting at 7 p.m., and it will be at the Indian Center ( 1600 W. Wilson ) . Tickets are $25. Contact Jeanne Calabaza for more information at: 773-844-5433.
There is a golf outing for Ralphj on April 30 at Billy Caldwell Golf Course, 6150 W. Peterson, starting at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $55. Contact Pam for more information at 773-343-4951, or by email at: email@example.com
There will be a walk with Ralphj on May 1, starting at 12 noon at Spyners Pub, 4623 N. Western. Cost is $25, which includes an Indian lunch. Contact Maureen for more information at 773-416-9110, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hamilton will be walking around the Waveland Park softball fields, 3800 N. Lake Shore, May 1 during the opening-weekend of the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association's women's softball league, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. She will be selling $10 raffle tickets and the first prize is $500. Cash is preferred, but checks and credit cards will be accepted.
For more information, go to donations4ralphj.bbnow.org .