JOHNSTON Co-workers help woman fighting cancer
When the store closes, the single mother will be without health insurance.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
JOHNSTON -- Wendy Sutliff starts to cry when she thinks about the help and support of her friends and co-workers.
Sutliff, 34, who has worked at Phar-Mor for 16 years, is scheduled for surgery Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic.
Sutliff suffers from cancer in her facial area. She's already undergone several operations and expects to undergo more.
When the Elm Road store in Howland where she's worked since 1999 closes in the next several weeks, she'll have no health insurance.
Sutliff, who lives in Johnston Township, northeast of Cortland, doubts she'll be able to find another job.
"Who will want to hire me?" she said, referring to her medical condition.
Co-workers Jennifer White, Jennifer Huey and Betty Gardner worry about Sutliff's medical bills and her 6-year-old daughter, Miranda.
Sutliff is a single mom.
"If someone wants to hire Wendy and train her, she's a very hard worker," White said.
What's being done
They started a campaign this week to help their friend, including establishing the Miranda Sutliff Benefit Fund at Firstar Bank in Warren.
They also wrote letters to media outlets, the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and agencies they thought could help.
"Ever since we wrote the letter, people are coming up to me and saying, 'I thought of somewhere else you should send it,'" White said.
The wigs Sutliff buys, for example, are very expensive. They're hoping the agencies or a doctor may donate services to help.
"I'm so emotional that they went to this effort," Sutliff said, wiping away tears.
She has friends throughout the Phar-Mor chain.
She worked at the Belmont Avenue store in Liberty Township for several years before transferring to the Howland store to be closer to home.
"Whenever I see someone from the Belmont store, they always ask me how Wendy's doing," Gardner said. "She's just a wonderful person."
The store boasts a lot of tight-knit friendships. Co-workers took up a collection for Sutliff and another employee at Christmastime, when most people's hours had been cut because of the corporation's financial difficulties.
"We don't know all of the connections. We just want to get her some help," White said.
Anyone who wants to help can write to White at 8379 Main St., Kinsman 44428.
When Sutliff worries aloud about her difficulties, White responds, "You know where I live."
Gardner pipes in with "I'm not hard to find."
Sutliff is grateful to her friends.
"I want to thank everyone for their support," she said. "They're the ones who get me through the day at work."