Marcia Wincel is a cancer warrior.
The thief stole her husband, Cliff, three years ago when he was only 37. Leukemia claimed their lifelong friend, Gary, 35, the next day after a seven-year battle.
Wincel, who works at the Bone and Joint Surgery Center at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, made a final promise to her husband before his life slipped away, The Observer & Eccentric reports.
She vowed never to stop fighting the disease.
And she hasn’t.
She was the team captain of the largest team at the 2010 Relay of Life, raising more than $8,000 for cancer research. She committed to a 20-year cancer prevention study organized by the American Cancer Society, “an organization I hold dear to my heart,” she said.
And on March 20, she shaved her head to raise awareness about the disease, and to honor those who are fighting or have lost their fight to cancer. She went bald after her co-workers met her challenge – initially $1,000.
“I thought I could make it interesting,” she told the newspaper. “For approximately one month before shaving, if I can get my fellow co-workers to raise enough money, I will willingly shave my head at the surgery center for everyone to see.”
Her co-workers raised $3,400 for the American Cancer Society.
Besides shaving her head, she also donated her long ponytail to Children with Hair Loss, according to a post on the St. John’s Providence Health System’s Facebook page.
“It is extremely hard for me to share this story, but I know it’s important,” Wincel said. “Cancer touches so many people. And just know this isn’t half of what my husband and I went through.”
Cliff Wincel was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in January 2010 that affects only one in 1 million people a year. He had been healthy and symptom-free until one morning when he was stricken by excruciating back pain that made him curl up in defense.
Many tests and biopsies later, doctors discovered a germ cell tumor that had started somewhere in his abdominal area. He was initially given a 50/50 chance of survival, odds that decreased over the next year, despite aggressive chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant that proved unsuccessful.
Marcia Wincell was at her husband’s side throughout the ordeal and took classes to learn how to give her husband injections and clean the line catheter that would be placed in his chest.
“When you love someone, you don’t think twice about what’s required of you to help,” She told the newspaper. “You just do.”
Cliff Wincell died Dec. 23, 2010.
“I stood by by husband’s bed,” she said. “I held his hand and touched his heart while I watched him take every single last breath. I said goodbye to my best friend, the person I had been with since age 19 – 10 years of marriage and seven years together before that. This was the hardest and most honorable thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
In comparison, shaving her head may have been the easiest.