It’s ok to be afraid, but fear shouldn’t dictate your life

IRON MOUNTAIN — There are things that I’m afraid of in life — spiders, snakes, going bald. But the most prevalent fears are those of losing the people I love.

When I was a kid, I watched the movie “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, because it was my cousin’s favorite movie and she wanted to watch it together. But in my 10-year-old state, the opening scene where the mobsters kill a bunch of people was a bit too much, and for weeks, I had recurring nightmares that my dad was one of the murdered.

In grade school, when our family dog died, I had to be pulled out for a day because I couldn’t stop crying. For as long as I can remember, I have always been most afraid of living life without the people I want to live it with, but I never really feared my own death. I didn’t think about how I was a loved one to other people, and how their greatest fear might, too, be losing the people they love.

Earlier this year, I learned that I had thyroid disease, and after months of failed treatments and problematic side effects, it was discovered that I had a growing lump on the right side of my thyroid. I never knew that I could fear the word lump so much, because with the word lump, the “c” word is inevitably implied. Between the discovery of the node and the actual testing of the node, a month went by, and in that month, I chose not to think about it. Rob and I only told a few people who needed to know, but for the most part, we kept it close to the heart. We both continued working and living our lives, and while it was always in the back of our heads, we really didn’t talk about it. I told myself I didn’t have time. I had the store and our puppy and our family; there was so much else that needed to be done that I couldn’t afford to “lose it,” and so in that month, I didn’t necessarily ignore it, but I also acted as if there was nothing different.

When we finally were able to test it, and the results came back negative, the relief I felt in that moment was relief I didn’t even know I needed to feel. It was as if all the fear I hadn’t allowed myself to face and all the gravity of the situation that I’d pushed off suddenly hit me, and I was utterly overwhelmed. I didn’t have cancer. I had a disease, but not the disease. When I called to tell my husband, I cried for the first time.

My dad had come with me when everything was tested, and as we were driving away, he grabbed my hand and, with a watery shimmer in his eyes, said, “I’m just so happy. I’m so relieved.” Then, he said, “There are so many people here who probably came with some of the same problems who got very different news.” In that moment, my heart broke for them.

What is the most feared word in today’s world? According to a 2017 study found on ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, about a quarter to half of the population worry about getting cancer, with 5 to 10 percent worrying to an extreme extent. Cancer is like the “Voldemort” of diseases — it’s the disease that shall not be named — because the weight of the word is so much that, in some sense, even speaking the it brings fear. In my family, cancer is an all-too-familiar word.

My family members have suffered skin, breast and prostate cancer, and every family member has dealt with their diagnosis differently.

For me, without even having been diagnosed, I needed to not talk about it and not think about it. Some need support groups and need people to know. Others don’t want people to know, but it’s inevitable that others do. The fact is, everyone deals with it differently, and no one way is better than the other.

When my father-in-law received his diagnosis, he was told by the doctor that he had only months to live. My mother-in-law promptly told that doctor exactly what she thought of him, found an experimental trial, and two years later, “Pa” is still proudly sporting his Bears jersey. He’s still battling his cancer, but he’s living. Thankfully, the cancer stories in my family have all ended happily — that doesn’t mean the battles were easy, and it didn’t always look like the happy endings would come — but there are so many people who don’t get the relief that I felt.

When I thought about all the people who, while I was being told I didn’t have cancer, were being told that they did, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t not talk about it anymore. For those whose story ended differently than mine, I can’t tell you I understand what you’re going through, but I can tell you I understand fear. I wish I could do more. I wish I could take your pain away and instead give you relief. Your story is your story, and the way in which you tell it is your right. If you need to talk about it, talk about it, and if you need to push through by not talking about it, then push through and don’t talk about it. I’ve learned in my life that the pieces of my heart that are shown to the world are only shown to the world because I’ve chosen to share them, and because they are a part of me that I want to be seen, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Fear is a monster. It’ll eat you alive and then come back for more. It’s OK to be afraid, and it’s totally normal to be as well. It’s a very real emotion — I still make my husband kill any spider I find in my house — but you can’t let fear rule your life.

The nodes on my thyroid are still there, and part of me is afraid of that, but where will that fear get me? In place of that fear, I’ve chosen to feel pride. I am proud of the life that I have lived, no matter what happens with those nodes. I am proud of my family and my loved ones. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I haven’t yet accomplished. In your fear, be proud — be proud of who you are and what you’ve done, no matter where you are in life — let that confidence be what you allow yourself to feel. To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around it. I don’t know your story, and I don’t know what battles you’ve faced, but you are not alone.




Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Sunday: Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Reminisce, 11 a.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; craft, 3 p.m.; laundry day, 4 p.m.; dinner theater, 5 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 11 a.m.; puppy visits, 1 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; sing-a-long, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; Daily News, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitor, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; storytelling, 10 a.m.; matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Picture day, 9:30 to 3 p.m.; Resident Council, 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social, 10 a.m.; animal king, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; Men’s Club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; St. Mark’s church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10 a.m.; Activity Council, 10 a.m.; auxiliary beer and pizza party, 2 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search, 10 a.m.; puzzle time, 10 a.m.; geri gym, 11 a.m.; Intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Popcorn Day Fridays.

Protestant Church service, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Exercises, 10 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when?, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I?, 10:15 a.m.; Christmas tree trimming with carols, cocoa, and cookies, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; Soundz of Time, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Good Neighbor bingo, 2 p.m.; Christmas crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: All about December, 10:15 a.m.; Mass, 2 p.m.; chips n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. daily.

Monthly support group for grief and loss, 2 p.m. second Monday of the month.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Mass, 9 a.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; penny ante, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 2 p.m.; Baptist service, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Rummage bingo, 10 a.m.; Resident Council, 2 p.m.; Christmas carolers, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Hot cocoa and trivia, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Bible stories, 3 p.m.; Jan and Gino, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Mass, 9 a.m.; short stories, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Mass and adoration, 10:15 a.m.; Christmas card writing, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Gingerbread house making, 10 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; Christmas movie with popcorn, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Coffee clutch, 9:30 a.m. daily

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Packers vs. Cardinals, noon; Bible study, 2:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Christmas Carolers, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: The Girls, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Packers vs. Cardinals, noon; Yahtzee, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; Black Jack, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Baking cookies, 10 a.m.; writing Christmas cards, 2 p.m.; cookie party, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Resident council, 10 a.m.; music with Larry, 2 p.m.; one-on-one visits, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; gingerbread house-making with Valri, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; family/resident Christmas party, 1 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rosary 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; cards, 10:30 a.m.; Packer party, noon; trivia, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Sensory, 10 a.m.; song service, 1:30 a.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Decorating, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; bunko, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Casino outing, 10:30 a.m.; Steve Vivio, 1:30 p.m.; movie, 2 p.m.; Steve Vivio, 2:15 p.m.; one-on-one visits, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Decorating, 10 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-on-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Beauty shop, 10 a.m.; Leo Club making cookies, 2 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook: Lucy Korhonen


Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., with the salad bar opening at 4:30 p.m. The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and older and $6 for those younger than 60. There is a $1 charge for take-out containers. All are invited.

Cribbage will be played at 1 p.m. Wednesdays and be concluded in time for dinner.

Monday: Soup, salad, lemon pepper cod, baked potato, vegetables and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, cabbage rolls and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, stew in bread bowls, homemade dessert.

The center is closed Thursday through Sunday.

A blood pressure reading can be taken by request at any time while the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with the meal served at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors age 60 and older but not required.

Home-delivered meals for seniors 60 and older can be delivered seven days a week. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation rides, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older and $3.50 for younger than 60.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Four senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60.

Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60.

Thursday meal, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 p.m.

Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation rides, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday.

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara, Wis., area is offered.

They welcome any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join them for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time.

Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play.

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome.

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

If Norway-Vulcan are schools are closed due to snow days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Monday — Noon meal with chili, corn bread, green beans, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Monday — Evening meal at 5 p.m. with company chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, soup and salad, dessert; bingo and prizes with 50-50 also available. Sign up early.

Tuesday — TEFAP quarterly food distribution from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Iron Mountain Senior Center.

Wednesday — Blood pressure clinic, 11 a.m. to noon.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. The local MMAP counselor can be reached at 1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.