Waterloo family takes vacation from cancer

On their “Celebration Vacation” at Universal Studios Orlando, Fla., are, left to right, Brian, Angie, Marisa and Mason Hoffman, Randy and Tiffany Wild, and Dora and Ron Wild. (submitted photo)

It’s difficult to imagine a family more ravaged by cancer than the family of Ron and Dora Wild of Waterloo.

They’ve watched parents, siblings, cousins and in-laws fight tough cancer diagnoses and have even battled cancer themselves. Then they had the unimaginable difficulty of seeing their daughter fight her own battle with the ravaging disease.

In spite of all this cancer, this spring their family took a “Celebration Vacation” to Florida — to celebrate their victories and make memories.

“We’d been talking about trying to get a vacation for the whole family,” Dora said. “And it just really hit me after Angie went through her breast cancer, that we really do have a lot to be thankful for.”

Ron and his four brothers have all battled prostate cancer; one passed away, but the others are doing well and remain positive.

In 2008, Dora was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. Following complications with her liver and multiple chemotherapy and radiation courses of treatment, she continues to fight, already living years beyond her prognosis.

Their son-in-law, Brian Hoffman, lost his father, Jim, to a two-year battle with cancer. Their daughter, Brian’s wife Angie, just completed 33 radiation treatments after getting an early diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“Going on a vacation was a big leap of faith,” said Dora, who suffers the effects of her cancer and liver resection daily. “I don’t like to get too far from Barnes (Hospital).”

Twice given six months to live since her initial diagnosis five years ago, Dora continues to defy the odds. But she knows in time her health will eventually catch up with her.

“I wanted the grandkids to have some memories,” she said of Angie and Brian’s children, Marisa, 8, and Mason, 10. “We’re lucky that we’ve got this time left.”

Ron and Dora, their son Randy and his wife, Tiffany, and Brian and Angie and their children spent three days in Florida, making memories and celebrating their good fortune. Because to Ron, Dora and their family, they see themselves as blessed where others might see a curse.

“Lots of other people go through lots worse than this,” said Angie, who described how close her family has become through all the health trials they’ve had.

“Instead of asking ‘Why me?’ we should be asking ‘Why not me?’” said Ron. “God doesn’t pick and choose. Everything we have is a miracle.”

Dora agreed.

“So many people have had so many tragedies. We just have to be thankful for what we have.”

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