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A Good Day

TEGA CAY -- Two months removed from a breast cancer diagnosis, any day when the hardest part is figuring out why so many people care for you is a good day.

Which is why Jane Medler had one of her better days in recent memory Sunday.

"Overwhelming," said the Lake Wylie mother of teenage daughter, Lindsay, and former business owner. "Never would have thought in a million years it would be like this."

McHale's in Tega Cay hosted the Jane Medler Benefit on Sunday, scrambled together in only four weeks yet drawing hundreds in hopes of reaching a lofty goal.

"I know she's a single parent and lost her job," said Joy Ziegler, one of three main event organizers. "We're going to raise $10,000."

Eight bands and several vendors participated in the all-volunteer event, spurred by the friendship formed between Ziegler, a regular at gee Lei's consignment store formerly owned by Medler in Lake Wylie and the beneficiary. After Medler left gee Lei's, Ziegler offered her work with Ziegler's cleaning business, JBM.

A couple of weeks later, Medler told her friend she would have to quit following a Feb. 20 diagnosis. Before the conversation ended, Ziegler told Medler to expect a benefit.

"We're looking at four to six months of chemo, and Jane can't work," Ziegler said. "We're not going to let her lose her house."

Shaleen Bemus and Jerri Firth came on board "pretty darn quick," helping to bring together musical talent, donations and items for the silent auction and raffles.

"She just made a few phone calls, and the word spread," Firth said of Ziegler.

The end result came Sunday in a mix of tears and rock 'n' roll, shared drinks and silent donations.

"There are so many people who have given so much, done so much for Jane," said an emotional George Medler, Jane's father and also commodore at the Commodore Yacht Club in Lake Wylie. "You can't put a price tag on it. You can't even talk about it. I went to pieces."

Someone from Lincolnton, N.C., came just because he knew George. Someone donated a golf cart, someone else a jet ski. Then there were the bands, traveling and playing for free.

"One of the band members flew here," Jane Medler said. "He doesn't even know me. With the economy being what it is, who can do that? Overwhelming is the word."

Ziegler, who many credited with orchestrating much of what happened Sunday, said the day was possible not only because of her Lake Wylie friends, but because of caring communities in York, Rock Hill, Charlotte, Gastonia and just about everywhere she went.

"The community really came together," Ziegler said. "The sort of response we got from the public was unbelievable. I just went around asking can I have this, can I have that and people gave."

While so appreciative for Sunday she often lacked words, Medler's greatest gift so far is knowing she could be cancer free. After being diagnosed in February, she underwent a double mastectomy and rebuild procedure March 16. No Woman Left Behind, an organization providing support for women with breast cancer, helped with those costs.

Now she faces four chemotherapy treatments, three times a week in Gastonia, to make sure the cancer does not return. Medler admits being "a little scared," and hoped to take a good picture or two Sunday since her hair will be gone in two weeks. Responses to her condition range from girlfriends telling her to "suck it up" and fight the disease to her dad taking the more sympathetic approach. Both, she said, help.

Since No Woman Left Behind helped with medical costs, the money raised Sunday will go toward daily living costs, the kind sometimes overlooked when treatments keep someone from working a month or more. Not all the costs of cancer or financial, organizers say, and neither are all the financial costs medical.

"That's just the tip of the iceberg," Bemus said.

From girlfriends and family driving her to treatments to local cancer survivors who know what questions to ask her, Jane Medler said the community that came together Sunday is her key to surviving something she would never wish on anyone.

"If anybody had my support system," she said, "they could go through anything."