Cancer can’t take away local’s love of life |

Cancer can’t take away local’s love of life

Summit Daily/Jennifer Huffman Ruth Poulos' leukemia is currently in remission as she continues to undergo chemotherapy.

SUMMIT COVE – Ruth Poulos knew something was wrong when she made the trek to a doctor in Denver last Sept. 11. “I’m a runner, and in the summer I mountain bike; but that summer, I just couldn’t progress past a certain point,” Poulos said. “I would think, ‘I’m just tired today.'”Not only was she fatigued, but she was also experiencing a lot of pain in her thoracic region. Poulos was sent home that day last fall with a misdiagnosis.A few days later, she went to Dr. Alvin Otsuka who pinpointed the cause of her symptoms – acute lymphatic leukemia. Poulos, who had been healthy her entire life, had cancer.”I was in shock. My husband Alex and I were just stunned,” Poulos said. “It was a whirlwind for us, but we had to react quickly.”Poulos began chemotherapy right away.”The first six weeks were very intense,” she said. “I was in and out of chemo, which made me so sick.”After six weeks in the hospital, Otsuka told her she was in remission, which means the leukemia was not detectable. He told Poulos it was still safer to continue going through the chemotherapy sessions. She has completed six of the eight sessions.

The first few days after each chemotherapy session are the roughest for Poulos. She battles fatigue, swelling, nausea, skin and eye sensitivity.”Early on, I would get kind of depressed because I couldn’t do anything,” Poulos said.She has her husband of seven years to help her push through those times.”Alex is my best friend,” she said. “He’s a wonderful husband.”Poulos feels that her life perspective hasn’t changed drastically but has been multiplied by a hundred going through this experience.”I’ve always been thankful for each day, but it’s intensified now,” she said. “I would tell people to live life to it’s fullest. Be good to each other, do good things, be happy and enjoy life.”Poulos isn’t just a cancer patient; she’s a mother of two and grandmother of six.”I love being a grandma,” she said.

Life before cancer included hiking with her golden retrievers, Kopper and Samson, in warm weather and skiing in the winter.”I’m so grounded in being outdoors,” Poulos said. “This is my home, but it’s also my backyard I play in.”Poulos was the office manager at Snake River Fire Protection District before she got sick.”I’m ready to come back to work as soon as I can,” Poulos said. “I really miss my emergency service family.”Although insurance is covering a good portion of Poulos’ medical care, the out-of-pocket cost is still considerable.”The medicine is so expensive,” she said. “But whatever I need, I need to get it.”Many of the Snake River firefighters and extended family members are coming together for a leukemia fundraiser spaghetti dinner to benefit Poulos and help with her mounting medical costs. The spaghetti dinner and silent auction will be held 5-9 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne.The dinner will feature homemade sauce and meatballs made by renowned Summit County chefs.

Cost for the event will be $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Dinner will include spaghetti, salad, bread, beverage and dessert. Vegetarian sauce also will be provided. Live music will be performed by Mark Glenn and Leon Joseph Littlebird. A cash bar will be available and everyone attending will get the chance to win lift tickets and lodging at the Zephyr Lodge in Winter Park courtesy of Intrawest.Volunteers are currently collecting items for the silent auction in the community from local businesses and from businesses throughout Colorado. Poulos hopes to be well enough to make it to the fundraiser.”My husband and I are very overwhelmed with the support of the community and our family,” she said. “It would break my heart to know that someone with cancer would have to go through this alone.”For more information or to donate items for the fundraiser, Call Kathy at (970) 468-6090 or Barbara at (970) 513-9227.Jennifer Huffman can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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