Family and friends plan benefit dinner and auction

Family and friends of a woman who would do anything for anyone else are joining together to do what they can to make a rough time easier for her.

“No words can even explain how it makes me feel, to know they care that much,” said Tonja Klima Horn, who is battling breast cancer, which has spread to her liver, lungs and lymph nodes.

Money raised at a benefit dinner and auction planned for Klima Horn on Saturday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), in Wapakoneta,  Post are expected to help her pay for medical and household bills, which have continued to mount since her diagnosis in 2009. Treatments and surgeries have left the Wapakoneta woman able to work only about half the hours she would have before.

Upon her initial diagnosis, Klima Horn had a lump removed and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy. A year later, when five more lumps were found, she had a double mastectomy in 2011, followed by more chemotherapy and six surgeries, and has battled lymphedema, which causes fluid retention and swelling and increases the risk of infection.

She underwent her last treatment Friday and her last surgery in May, to remove a lump from her liver, and is now preaching to everyone who will listen to get scans done and seek second opinions.

“I have chemotherapy every three weeks and am in the doctor’s office every week,” the 44-year-old said.

“I hope it comes to an end very soon,” she said. “It’s a numbers game and my numbers are way down so they are continuing with my chemotherapy.”

An over-the-road truck driver, Klima Horn said her diagnosis and subsequent treatments have made working difficult, compounding to financial struggles caused by high medical bills.

“I am hoping that if everything goes OK with my tests and scans that I can go back to work full time possibly in September,” Klima Horn said.

Until then, she continues to struggle with the large cost of medical bills and house payments, on which she has fallen behind.    

Seeing firsthand how important being close to family and friends can be, after moving back to the Wapakoneta area from Georgia in 2005 prior to her cancer diagnosis, Klima Horn said she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Her parents — Pat and Jerry Myers and Paul Klima — live in Wapakoneta, where she and her longtime boyfriend, Jeff Draper, relocated.

“It would be tough to be away from family and going through something like this,” Klima Horn said.

The tears started to fall when she talked about making her daughter, Jamie Bryan, now 27, stay in school in Colorado, instead of rushing back to be with her mom when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s so overwhelming what everyone is doing for me,” Klima Horn said. “I appreciate it so much.”

She hopes she is feeling well enough to enjoy the event with those putting it on for her behalf.

One of those friends organizing the benefit — Donna Parsons — struggled to keep herself from crying as she talked about the kind of person Klima Horn is and how that made them want to help her even more.

“Tonja is a very dear friend to me, she deserves this,” Parsons said.

She said by helping her friend in any way she can, she also feels as if she is honoring her sister-in-law, Tonya’s memory, who passed away from breast cancer.

“It’s just the right thing to do, helping those in need,” Parsons said.

“I know she’s struggling financially,” she said. “We want to help her get back on her feet.

“She’d give you the shirt off her back, she’s so caring and outgoing, even with all this, she is still doing what she can for other people,” Parsons said. “We want to help her as she has helped us all, without hesitation.”