By her own description, 2015 was a “rough year” for Laura Weisgarber.

Highlighted two years ago in The Canton Repository’s “Brave & Beautiful” section, the Jackson Township resident saw her job move out of town just days before she lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease. A few weeks later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer—for the second time in the years since her battle against Hodgkins disease when she was a freshman at Ohio State University.

She was dealt a tough hand to play. But, Weisgarber is a survivor.

And why not? She also has had a lot to enjoy in her life. Love from and for her family. An affection for her four-legged “child,” a furry Morkie named Woody after OSU’s legendary coach Woody Hayes. And she has the support of a host of friends who helped sustain her through her fight against cancer.

Weisgarber found a job that gave her life meaning as well. She works as finance director for ICAN Housing, which seeks to obtain housing for the homeless who are suffering from mental illness. “I’m the bean counter,” the upbeat Weisgarber explains. “Everybody I work with does the helping. I find the grants to pay for it.”

The Stark County child, now grown up, found a home. It seems she always had it.

“As a kid, when I went to Ohio State, I didn’t expect to be coming back to Stark County. I did come back. I got my first job here. And now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Done with chemotherapy and “clean” of cancer, Weisgarber talks often to co-workers working with clients who have been diagnosed with cancer. She offers insight into questions about what to expect from cancer treatments.

Still, without that prompting, her mind seldom returns to her own battle against the disease. Her busy life has moved on.

“I went through it and did what I had to do. My family helped me through it. But, I don’t think about it much. It is what it is. And I’ve done this three times.”

WEISGARBER’S LOCAL PICKS

FAVORITE THING TO DO:
“Spending time with family and friends. In the summer, it might be going on pontoon boat rides at Lake Cable. In the fall, it’s getting together and going to Winking Lizard, where my friend tends bar, to watch Ohio State games. It’s something different each season.”

FAVORITE RESTAURANT:
“I have so many favorites. But, Bender’s would have to be my all-time favorite. Get the wedge salad and walleye.”

FAVORITE SPOT:
“When I was a kid, it was going to what was called the Jackson Fireman’s Festival. Now it’s called the Jackson Community Fest, and it means seeing old friends.”

FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP:
“Chico’s, the clothing store at Belden Village Mall. I love going there. It usually hurts when I come out. At least that’s what my credit card says.”

FAVORITE ENTERTAINMENT SPOT:
“I like going up to Loby’s to have a drink and listen to music on the patio. A beer. Coors Light or Michelob Ultra.”

FAVORITE PLACE TO WORK OUT:
“That would entail actually working out. I enjoy walking around the neighborhood.”

FAVORITE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY:
“The Hall of Fame Festival. I volunteer for security, and I’m chairman of the First Play (committee). Other than that, I really enjoy the concert and the game and the enshrinement—all of it. I enjoy the whole thing.”

About The Author

Gary Brown
Contributor

Gary Brown has written articles and columns for About periodically since the publication’s inception, including pieces on books, recreational sports and historical subjects. A columnist and staff writer for The Repository, Brown enjoys such outdoor pursuits as golfing, sailing, skiing, biking and hiking. An avid student of the arts, he also uses those activities to inspire watercolor paintings.

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