Friends of Val Pitzen will be coming together on Friday at the Stacyville Community Center for a benefit as she battles brain cancer. -- Photo provided
Friends of Val Pitzen will be coming together on Friday at the Stacyville Community Center for a benefit as she battles brain cancer. -- Photo provided

Coming together for Val; Friends, family plan benefit for longtime volunteer, Parks and Rec worker

Published 10:46am Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Friends know Val Pitzen for her good heart and caring ways.

Val, a Stacyville, Iowa, resident, has volunteered in communities like Austin, St. Ansgar, Iowa, and Stacyville for many years. Now others are stepping up to return to the favor as Val battles cancer.

A committee of friends and family will hold a benefit in Val’s honor from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Stacyville Community Center.

“This is a way to show all the people she’s impacting,” said Becky Hartwig, close friend and committee member of the benefit.

In December of 2013, Val experienced severe headaches that landed her in the emergency room, though she had issues pronouncing words before then.

Through an MRI and other tests, doctors found a brain tumor, which was removed in mid-December. Doctors also diagnosed Val with astrocytoma glioblastoma, a type of cancer.

“It is what it is,” said Ken Pitzen, Val’s husband. “You don’t really have a choice in the matter.”

However, this didn’t stop Val from fighting back. She completed six weeks of both chemotherapy and radiation, and she now goes to chemo five days in a row once a month for six months.

Ken has been by his wife’s side during her battle against cancer, and he accompanies Val on many of her doctor’s appointments.

“That’s basically our life, going to doctor’s appointments,” he said.

Val Pitzen was decked out for the holidays while participating in first TubaChristmas at the Oak Park Mall. -- Herald file photo
Val Pitzen was decked out for the holidays while participating in first TubaChristmas at the Oak Park Mall. — Herald file photo

Hartwig said Val is an active member of not only her community, but others as well.

“She was super busy,” she said. “She does lots of volunteering.”

Val and Ken are both volunteer first responders with St. Ansgar Rescue. Val is also an Austin Park and Recreation department supervisor, and she also leads a youth baseball group, among other activities.

“She does more than the job requires,” Ken said.

However, going back to work has proven difficult forVal.

“She tried working, but the fatigue was pretty bad” Ken said.

The benefit will feature a bake sale; a silent auction; and a freewill donation meal of pulled pork sandwiches, beans, chips and a beverage.

Money raised will go mainly to medical bills and hospital trips, but that’s not what Ken is focused on.

“To me [the benefit] is not about the money,” Ken said. “It’s about getting together to support Val.”

Donations may be mailed to PO Box 176; St. Ansgar, Iowa 50472. Supplemental Funds are provided by Thrivent.


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