Spyners Bartender Battles Ovarian Cancer

By Samantha Abernethy | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ralphj Hannie, left, poses behind the bar at Spyners with bar owner Maureen Sullivan. Photo by Sam Hamilton.

Ralphj Hannie has been a friendly face at Spyners Pub for years, even during her battle with ovarian cancer in the last three years.

But now doctors say she has exhausted all conventional treatment options and say Ralphj has one year left to live.

But she’s not going to take that sitting down.

“She’s not going to allow this to defeat her,” said Griselda Gutierrez, a close friend of Ralphj. “She only has so much life left, and she’s going to fight for it.”

Ralphj is seeking alternative medical treatment in Mexico, and the community is rallying to help her make the trip. This weekend the Spyners community and Ralphj’s friends are putting together two events to raise money.

“She’s an amazing woman,” said Punchy Morelos, another close friend of Ralphj’s, “always looking out for everybody but herself.”

Punchy and Gris say Ralphj is a strong personality, who won’t hesitate to call you a “bonehead” when you deserve it. She taught Punchy how to play pool and bought Gris’ 4-year-old granddaughter Mia her first baseball mitt, hunting until she found a perfect little pink one. Her support must’ve helped: Punchy was Rookie of the Year in her league, and Mia was MVP in her tee-ball league.

“Any way she could possibly be there for you, she’ll be there,” said Punchy. Friends also said she has been active in a number of local charities and has been a crucial part of the Lincoln Square community.

On Saturday, April 30, there will be a golf outing at Billy Caldwell Golf Course, 6150 W. Peterson Ave. Friends say Ralphj plans to ride around in the beer truck on the course to say hello.

And on Sunday, May 1, the group has put together “Walk With Ralphj,” meeting at noon at Spyners (4623 N. Western Ave.) and walking to the American Indian Center at 1630 West Wilson Ave., for prayer and a traditional Native American healing dance. The celebration of Ralphj, who was born on a reservation in Wisconsin, will continue afterward at Spyners with an American Indian lunch and casino night fundraiser.

The goal is to raise about $18,000 to pay for Ralphj’s three-week treatment in Mexico. She is pursuing the Gerson Therapy, an alternative cancer treatment that even Oprah has been talking about. Doctors at the CHIPSA Immunological Medical Center in Tijuana, Mexico, say Ralphj is a good candidate for the treatment, since the cancer has not spread to her organs.

Since the Gerson Therapy is an alternative treatment, Ralphj’s health insurance company won’t cover it. Spyners owner Maureen Sullivan says she hopes Ralphj doesn’t think about money at all.  She has been paying Ralphj’s rent in recent months and has pitched in a sizable chunk of money to go toward her treatment.

Saturday’s golf outing starts at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $55. Contact Pam for more information at ( 773 ) 343-4951, or by email at cyrnekp20@gmail.com. Suggested donation for Sunday’s walk is $25, but all are invited to participate.

Join the Facebook group, Friends 4 Ralphj 4 Life, visit http://donations4ralphj.bbnow.org/ to donate to the cause, or stop by Spyners at 4623 N. Western Ave. to throw some money in the big bucket on the bar.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sara-Smithy/100001641909428 Sara Smithy

    No matter what Oprah has to say, Gerson Therapy was long ago debunked as pure quackery.
    “Between 1980 and 1986 at least 13 patients treated with Gerson therapy were admitted to San Diego area hospitals with Campylobacter fetus sepsis attributable to the liver injections. None of the patients was cancer-free, and one died of his malignancy within a week. Five were comatose due to low serum sodium levels, presumably as a result of the “no sodium” Gerson dietary regimen. As a result, Gerson personnel modified their techniques for handling raw liver products and biologicals. However, the Gerson approach still has considerable potential for harm. Recently, deaths also have been attributed to the coffee enemas administered at the Tijuana clinic.”

  • Anonymous

    We all wish you well Ralphj. We’ll be ‘in your corner’ all in our own ways.

    Let’s stay ‘in it to win it!’

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