In honor of dad: Two 4-H members earn money for father’s disease


SALEM, Ohio – In December 2000, Rob Plumley of Burton thought he had the flu. He was vomiting and his stomach frequently cramped up.

When the symptoms wouldn’t go away, he went to a hospital and was diagnosed with mononucleosis.

Two months passed. Each day, the stomach pains got worse and the vomiting became more frequent.

Trying to figure out what was wrong with him, Rob had a series of cat scans done.

All of them came back negative. However, the symptoms were not going away.

In April 2001, one cat scan led doctors to a diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.

Bad to worse. The disease had reached advanced stages and has no cure. It kills 99 percent of its victims, whom usually only survive three to six months after being diagnosed.

Rob survived seven months. He died in November 2001, leaving behind his wife Michelle (whom he married a month after being diagnosed) and three children from other marriages: Audra, 11; Jackie, 9; and Scott, 3.

After Rob was diagnosed, his family decided they were not going to show their Jersey cows in the Trumbull County Fair, but Rob, as he received chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the Ireland Cancer Center in Cleveland, insisted that they showed.

Obeying their father’s wishes, Audra and Jackie decided to show, but would use the occasion to promote PanCAN, a non-profit group that raises awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research.

Wearing PanCAN T-shirts, Audra and Jackie entered the show ring at the Trumbull County Fair last week, just like the year before.

Sweet irony. It’s ironic that the girls had small purple ribbons (PanCAN’s logo) hanging from their back pockets to honor their father, when they won larger ribbons of the same color in the show ring while fighting for his cause.

At the end of the night, the Plumley girls won junior and reserve junior champion Jersey ribbons, senior champion Jersey honors as well as grand and reserve champion Jerseys titles.

Extra help. They also got help from their 4-H club, the Very Good Kow Growers. The club donated the $400 they got for selling a cheese basket to Noose Livestock to PanCAN.

The girls’ fight for a cure to this deadly disease hasn’t stopped there. This year’s 4-H booth was dedicated to PanCAN and the girls recently ran a two-mile race in Bay Village, Ohio, to gather donations for the organization. So far the girls alone have raised over $600 for the organization.

The girls will also show Jersey cows at the Geauga County Fair this month and all donations they collect will be given to PanCAN.

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