About Us

Mary Billings-Senff

I'm a brain cancer survivor.  My tumor was discovered accidentally after an MRI in 2002.  It was a slow growing tumor, so my doctors recommended a "watchful waiting" approach.  In 2008 the tumor had grown and after a biopsy, I was diagnosed with an Oligoastrocytoma.  Due to the location and size of the tumor, it is inoperable.  I began TomoTherapy radiation and chemotherapy in the winter of 2008.

Since the discovery of my tumor in 2002, I've wanted to do something to help those diagnosed with a brain tumor and their families.  Tie One On For Brain Cancer provides an opportunity for everyone to assist in the quest to fund research that focuses on new therapies for brain tumor patients and improvements to existing therapeutic options. 

Whether you are a knitting novice or a pro, a donator of materials, or someone who loves to shop - everyone can take part in this fundraising effort. 

I am the luckiest cancer patient I know.  I look healthy, I feel healthy and I enjoy life.  I have an incredibly supportive family and network of friends.  And I'm so thankful that I have the ability to make a difference and raise awareness. 

Elizabeth Billings-Wethington

Karen Billings

I’m Mary’s mom, Karen.  I’m a retired elementary school teacher with a fairly normal life, most of the time.   I live in a small town in western Nebraska.  My husband, Jim, and I raised two wonderful daughters, sent them off to college and at that point I thought all our cares were ended.  But as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
 
As Mary’s mom, I naturally went through a roller coaster of emotions when she was first diagnosed.  Mary was in grad school and was only twenty-three years old.  Her adult life was just getting started.  I desperately wanted it to be me with the tumor, not her.  I wanted to be strong for her but I knew she could see right through my façade.  Stuffing my emotions was of no use.
 
Very quickly, Mary set the emotional tone for all of us.  Life is short and now Mary’s life, potentially, could be shorter than planned so she didn’t intend to spend it being morose.  Instead she stepped into the world of doctors, needles, and diagnostic machines with courage, confidence and a good bit of humor. 
 
That is not to say that Mary does not have a more serious side.  I have often seen her   show great concern for others despite her own plight.  She greets everyone she meets from store clerks to medical staff, with a big smile and a kind word.  She is always calming the phlebotomists who have trouble finding a co-operative vein in her arm by saying, “It’s OK.  It’s not your fault that I have tiny veins and tough young skin.  Just keep trying.  I’m used to it.  Really!”
 
I am certain that her concern for others is what has driven her to start this “Tie One On” project.   I must admit, however, that when she came up with the idea, I was not very enthusiastic.  I had just retired and was, once again, naively hoping for a carefree life.  But Mary and her sister, Elizabeth, would not let go of the idea.  They both have can-do, type A personalities, like their father, and are not easily discouraged.  Plus they are both very social and they saw this as a way to start a social network of creative, caring people.  I, on the other hand, am a much more private person.  And yet, here I am, putting myself out there on the web and I must admit I have enjoyed participating in this new adventure of theirs.  
 
Jim and I are lucky to have both our daughters and their families living relatively close.  Elizabeth and her family are two hours away and Mary and her husband are five hours away.  Despite this we are all able to get together fairly often.  We feel so fortunate to have had more time to adjust to life with a brain tumor than most families get when brain cancer enters their realm.  We have all gotten better at embracing life as it comes and savoring our time together.  And isn’t that what life is all about?
 

Support Staff

We also must thank our devoted spouses, Jeff Senff, Mark Wethington and Jim Billings.  Without them, none of this would be possible.  They have provided us with emotional and financial support, as well as patience, kindness and understanding.  They are our rocks!

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