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Man seeks to raise money for cancer patient

October 03, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Leroy "Woody" Woodring, a Waynesboro man who spends some of his spare time helping others, said Thursday that he wants to set aside Oct. 12 as "Jill Sipes Day" in Franklin County.

Jill Sipes-Sellers 33, of Mercersburg, Pa., a single mother of three, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in July 2002.

Since then, her plight has been the object of numerous fund-raising events around the county.

The amount raised so far is more than $70,000 at last count, according to Sipes-Sellers. Most of it went toward the cost of a series of treatments she has undergone at a Mexican cancer clinic called the Oasis of Hope. She started the treatments in December.

She turned to the Mexican clinic in desperation after her doctors in Baltimore told her that her condition was hopeless. The treatments, considered controversial in the medical profession, were not recommended by the physicians in Baltimore, she said.

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Dr. George Manger of Hagerstown, Sipes-Sellers' gynecologist, said in December that hers was a very aggressive form of cancer.

The Mexican clinic's treatments included injecting her tumors with medication plus blood-cleansing procedures, she said.

She traveled to Mexico on a regular basis until June, when her condition "took a turn for the worse," she said.

She said she has been undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments at Robinwood Medical Center.

Woodring, 74, of 12684 Coldspring Road, said after he learned of Sipes-Sellers' situation, he decided he wanted to do what he could for the woman.

"She really has the faith," he said. "If anyone will whip this, she will. She's so alive, vibrant and upbeat."

Woodring passed the hat at a local gospel sing in February and raised more than $800, he said. He did it again at a local bluegrass jam session, he said. A part-time tour bus driver, he also collects money for Sipes-Sellers from his passengers on excursions, he said.

"I get a few hundred here, a few hundred there," he said. "It's just a little thing, but it helps her to pay her medical bills. Her case has bugged me and I wanted to help. Somebody's got to do it."

Sipes-Sellers lives with her parents, Richard and Lois Lynch, at 10720 Shimpstown Road. She has three daughters, Laken, 9, Mallory, 5, and Lexi, 14 months.

She worked until June 2002 teaching cosmetology at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

She said her work-provided insurance runs out in November.

Woodring said he and his wife, Elizabeth, spend some of their spare time doing charity work for local people in need. This year, it happened to be Sipes-Sellers, he said.

His plan, which he hopes to promote through the local media and by word of mouth, is to have area churches and clubs hold a special collection for Sipes-Sellers on that day.

Woodring also is encouraging individuals to donate, he said.

"It's a special day for everyone to do something," he said.

Woodring has no specific goal in mind, only to raise as much money as possible, he said.

Woodring tried to get the Franklin County Commissioners to declare Oct. 12 as Jill Sipes Day. They fell short of doing that but did send Woodring a letter on county stationery, signed by all three commissioners, that endorses his efforts, Commissioner Bob Thomas said Thursday.

"We trust the community will support the efforts of this caring person," Thomas said.

Donations may be sent to the Jill Sipes Cancer Fund, Corning Credit Union, 677 S. Antrim Way Ext., Greencastle, PA 17225.

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