A sister’s lovePublished 10:36am Tuesday, February 2, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
In an e-mail she sends to local media outlets, Susan Miller describes her sister Robynne (Wagner) Nowacki, as her best friend. The “only two kids of a pair of really great parents.” Susan and “Sis,” as she calls her, have always been close.
The two were born and raised in Niles, where Miller still lives. Nowacki had moved to New Carlisle.
Now, Miller – the younger of the two – is stepping up in an effort to help her sister in a fight neither of them might have never expected to face.
At age 44, Nowacki received alarming news when she discovered a tumor on her neck.
“It just kept growing and growing,” Miller said.
Her sister went to have the growth looked at by a doctor and was diagnosed in November with Hodgkins lymphoma. With little time to adjust to the diagnosis, Miller’s sister Robynne began a courageous battle against the disease and started treatment through chemotherapy.
With each round, Miller said, her sister holds her own, “but it seems that she gets a little sicker with each treatment.”
With just three sessions of chemo under her belt, Nowacki and her family were dealt another tragic blow.
On Jan. 7, Nowacki’s oldest of three sons, Cory Wagner, was involved in a tubing accident, colliding with a tree, an accident that resulted in severe head injuries.
Wagner suffered a fractured skull and was taken to Fort Wayne via ambulance; the weather was too bad for air transportation, Miller said.
“He actually came to at the hospital,” she said. Nowacki couldn’t be with her son as he was being treated for his injuries, so the sisters’ parents made arrangements to stay in Fort Wayne.
After he came to, Miller said, “he was our Cory.”
But during one of his following procedures, as doctors tried to repair some of the damage, a blood vessel in his brain burst as doctors tried to remove one of his tubes.
“His eyes,” Miller said, “just rolled back and went into a coma then.”
The 23-year-old was in a coma for two weeks. When he woke up it was apparent he would have to work hard at regaining a lot of his standard functions, learning how to walk and trying to remember various things.
“It may take a year of recovery,” before her nephew is back to a version of normal, Miller said.
Through the back to back challenges and tragedies, Nowacki has been taking treatment for her cancer, her middle son, Nic a senior at Edwardsburg High School, has stuck by his big brother’s side, a lesson he may have learned from watching his mother and her sister.
“Nic, he’s been down there with is brother the whole time,” Miller said.
As the family coped with two back to back tragedies, another blow came when small nodules were found on the neck of Nowacki’s youngest son, Devan, .
With the history of cancer in the family, Miller said her nephew’s parents requested an MRI scan.
It was following that scan that doctors found a “large tumor attached to his brain and his brain stem,” Miller said.
Just 14 years old, Devan was rushed to Columbus, Ohio to the National Children’s Hospital for treatment.
“They were successful in removing it,” Miller said. Yet in doing so, she said doctors diagnosed Devan with Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors, a rare form of cancer that would require aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.
“Needless to say, it’s been extremely rough for the family,” Miller said. “There’s so much we can’t do and I’m looking for answers.”
As she holds out hope for her sister and her three nephews, Miller has also decided to put her hope into action, she wants to organize a benefit dinner for Nowacki and her family.
With no experience undertaking such a challenge, the one thing standing in her way are legalities, she said. Miller is asking anyone who might have experience in pulling off such an event contact her.
To do just that, email Susan Miller at email@example.com. To learn more about the Nowacki family, Robynne, Cory, Nic and Devan visit www.wagnernowackibenefit.yolasite.com.