Helping Mrs. Oakes
Sheckler Elementary School Librarian Heather Oakes is not alone on her journey to regaining her health.
Oakes was diagnosed with Stage IV sarcoma November 2012. Since her diagnosis she has undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Due to the rigorous nature of the treatments and the physical impact they place on her body, she and her family stay in the city from Tuesdays until Friday mornings.
"I remain optimistic," Oakes said. "I am too young to go anywhere, so I am going to continue fighting this disease. I need to be here for my 6-year-old daughter. I need to be here for my husband and family and friends."
A fundraiser, "Hoedown for Heather," organized by Oakes' brother and his wife, is scheduled for 6-10 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the North Shore House in Stillwater, N.J. The event will feature food, drink and live music from The Snake Oil Willie Band. Catasauqua area residents and school employees who are familiar with "Mrs. Oakes" at Sheckler are encouraged to participate.
Cchemotherapy treatments are necessary to destroy whatever cancer may still exist in her body.
"These treatments are vital because we are hoping and praying that the chemo kills the cancer that is in my blood," Oakes said. "I will also go through radiation and we are hoping and praying that the radiation shrinks and kills the tumors."
While the treatment regiment for Oakes has been challenging and exhausting, she is hopeful.
"I will continue to pray that I beat this disease and go back to having a normal life," she said.
To date, Oakes said she is doing well. The existing tumors have not grown and no new tumors have surfaced since she began chemotherapy.
Proceeds from the April 20 event will go to help defer the costs associated with treatment and travel.
Those interested in finding out more about the event should contact Oakes' brother, Bill Pucci at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Hoedown for Heather."
"I am forever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for holding a fundraiser," she said.
In the meantime, Oakes is looking ahead to a cancer-free future.
"I look forward to going back to work at Sheckler," she said. "I look forward to having hair again! I look forward to being healthy."