By Kristine Gill
Kim Singiser wants to knock out the disease that killed her mom.
Tracey Singiser died from brain cancer in 2009 after a battle with breast cancer. Now Kim is working to raise money to take part in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event in Philadelphia from Oct. 14-16. Participants must raise $2,300 to walk the 60-mile, three-day event.
“We’re doing it to try to find a way to end this disease. It’s terrible,” Kim said. “It affects so many women and I’ll help any way I can to help someone else not go through what we did.”
But there was a time when Singiser’s half-sister, Jen Callahan, didn’t think Tracey, her stepmother, would fight cancer.
“She flat out said, ‘I don’t want to waste away. I don’t want to go through this,’” Callahan remembered.
After losing her son Jay to suicide, going through a divorce and maintaining a part-time job and a small business in Austintown, Tracey didn’t think she could handle much else.
“She had no medical insurance so that was very scary for her, too, for someone who always paid her bills,” Callahan said. “But 48 hours later she called me back and said she was going to fight. And I just told myself everything was going to be fine.”
Tracey survived breast cancer and was in remission for almost a year before doctors found a tumor in her brain. That was a battle she couldn’t fight despite her will to live. She died in July 2009. She was 49.
Callahan, 36, walked in the three-day event last year, but Kim wasn’t able to raise enough to participate.
“It tore her apart not being able to walk last year,” Callahan said.
This year, Kim is organizing a fundraising event at Team Bundy Mixed Martial Arts in June, a “punch-a-thon to knock out cancer.” The event is open to the public, and for one minute anyone can hit a punching bag by donating any amount they like per punch. General donations will also be accepted.
Kim, 25, lives in Girard where she works at Walgreens and takes boxing lessons at Team Bundy in Niles. She’s hoping the training will help her power through the hills and blisters 60 miles will bring.
Kim remembers her mother for her strength especially in facing her cancer diagnosis.
“She did chemotherapy two to three times a week and she also still worked part time for the Ohio Turnpike,” Kim said. “So she’d go to work and go and do treatment and also owned her own business, a drive-through lottery in Austintown called Little Lotto Shack.”
Kim visited her mother every day during his final month she spent at a hospice home, watching the feisty woman who raised her slowly fade, becoming unrecognizable.
“It wasn’t even like it was her anymore,” Kim said “But she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever seen. For her to deal with that and getting diagnosed and still be happy and kind. She’s absolutely my idol. If I could leave the world and have one person feel the way so many people felt about her, I’d be happy. She’s everybody’s rock.”
Kim said what surprised her the most about losing her mother to cancer was how she would later deal with the loss.
“I thought, I can handle it. We all handled it when Jay died, I can handle it now,” she said. “But this was nothing like the first time. I knew it was different because it was my mom, but I thought I’d at least have some sort of strength.”
Kim and Callahan are hoping a display of physical strength for those three days will help others avoid a loss like the one they suffered.
“Of course I would want to do the walk,” Callahan said. “Of course I would want to find a cure. Of course I would worry about my sister’s health going forward, my daughters’ health, my son’s. There are so many reasons to do the walk.”