Hazel's County Fair Raises Funds For MPHS Grad
Hazel & Elaine
The rain clouds parted and gave way to a beautiful day for a county fair. Tucked in the back corner of the fourth annual Wyckoff Day, families and friends gathered to help support beloved preschool teacher Miss Elaine in her fight against cancer.
Hazel's Country Fair, named for Elaine Mejury-Mezurek's 3-year-old daughter, Hazel, featured old time games, like a penny pitch and pickle toss (featuring plastic pickles for fickle little ones), and activities including crown making and sand art. Treats included Old Fashioned lemonade in Bell Mason jars and candied apples. Under the tent, there were tables of baskets brimming with goodies to be raffled off for the family. The section also had a DJ with freeze dance and hulahoop contests, who kept encouraging people over the loud speaker to come to Hazel's County Fair benefit for Elaine.
A graduate of Midland Park High School class of 1994, Mazurek's cancer battle began with a visit to urgent care Mother's Day in 2012. By the end of the week, she had been diagnosed with triple negative stage four breast cancer — a complete shock as she is an active athletic mom with no family history of breast cancer. In June, she began chemotherapy treatments, completing two rounds of chemo by November followed with a bilateral mastectomy and the start of reconstruction surgery with expanders put in. At the end of the month, her PET scan and brain MRI showed no tumors. But within two weeks, she was back in the hospital for a breast infection requiring a five-day stay.
On Christmas, she started to get severe headaches and in the first week of January 2013, she was diagnosed with cancer of the spinal fluid and brain. She had five lesions and had the largest one removed that week, followed by a month of daily brain radiation treatments. There were five lesions and on January 6th she had the largest one removed. The following week she started daily brain radiation treatments at Morristown Memorial Hospital for a month in order to shrink the other tumors. During these daily treatments, the family stays at a hotel to be close to the hospital, an expense that can quickly add up.
In February, Elaine powered through both brain chemotherapy and Intrathecal chemotherapy, AND shingles. In early May, she had the expanders removed and breast implants inserted so she could have another MRI to determine the next stage of treatment. Thankfully, the MRI came back showing no tumors, however, abnormal cells were still present in her brain ans spinal fluid, so she started a third round of Intrathecal chemotherapy. This time, she had a very bad reaction to the chemo and twice ended up in the hospital for treatment of chemical meningitis. She is waiting on the results of her latest PET scan and is expect to start back up with the chemotherapy and still has headaches and dizziness from the chemical meningitis.
On Saturday, however, she was all smiles, full of pep and energy, wearing a handmade crown on her peach fuzzed head. As she navigated the lines for the various bounce houses and rides for Hazel, she stopped to chat with friends, supporters and well wishers, all the while tending to her active daughter with such energy and enthusiasm, it's hard to believe she's been fighting cancer for the past 12 months, and still has more radiation treatment to undergo.
Elaine said she is doing great and hopeful for good results of her latest PET scan. The one thing slowing her down, she said, is the chemical meningitis, which can present symptoms without much warning causing dizzy spells and fainting when she least expects it (like while bowling).
"Elaine is incredibly strong and her positive attitude is what helps our whole family cope," her mother, Carol Ann Mejury told Midland Park Press. "She tells me her daughter Hazel is how she gets through everything and the community has been extremely supportive!"
"Elaine doesn't want her cancer to overshadow Hazel's childhood," explained MaryBeth McGuire, Childcare Director, Wyckoff Family YMCA, where Elaine has worked for the past 10 years, first as a gym instructor and Sports Director during summer camp, and later as a preschool teacher. "She said she wanted to throw Hazel a big party when she felt better. So, we decided that this was what we could do for Elaine – throw that party she wanted for Hazel.
"Elaine is awesome! Before becoming ill, she was known as the girl with the 'big personality.' Funny, enthusiastic and was up for anything. She was wonderful with the preschoolers," said McGuire added. "After she became ill, she could have felt sorry for herself and no one would blame her. Instead her positive attitude, her funny and sometimes (shameless) ways she talks about her illness makes you wonder. This amazing woman is showing all of us how to handle what life throws at you and prioritize what’s important. I admire her strength and determination to deal with what you get."
While Elaine has more radiation treatment ahead of her, everyone is hopeful she will be back teaching preschool at the Y this fall.
To make a donation to Elaine Mazurek's Fund at the Y, send a check to Wyckoff Family YMCA, 691 Wyckoff Ave, Wyckoff NJ 07481, and note the funds are for Elaine. The fund is being managed through the YMCA's Pietro Maugeri Foundation, an organization formed in memory of a well-known Ho-Ho-Kus barber that financially assists families who are adversely affected with critical illnesses or injuries.