By Jeanne Sager
HONESDALE, PA September 10, 2004 It was the least they could do.
Thats what Dotty Schultz said about the tournament set for tomorrow at Cricket Hill Golf Club in Honesdale, Pa.
The invitational will benefit Beverly Bev Mitterwager, a Callicoon resident known to most folks as Senora Mitterwager the lady who opened their eyes in seventh and eighth grades to Spanish culture.
She taught kids bursting with hormones and struggling to fit into high school to yell out sacapuntas. Its really the Spanish word for pencil sharpener, but Mitterwager knew it sounded naughty and made her pre-teen charges giggle.
She served as class advisor and helped in her community, raising three kids of her own (Jodi, Morgan and Jason) and watching them begin rearing her three grandsons (Jason, Paul and Ben).
And today, Bev Mitterwager spends much of her time at home, in bed, struggling to come to terms with what many look at as a death sentence the squamous cell cancer that made her ear ache for months at a time is now a permanent fixture in her head.
A five-hour surgery in May to remove a lump from her ear turned into an 11-hour search for the layers of cancerous tissue that had spread from the ear deeper into the head.
The surgery hit nerves in her face, making her good eye droop making it nearly impossible for the one-time teacher to even curl up with a good book.
Mitterwager then went through bouts of radiation, the rays taking away her sense of taste.
CAT scans and MRIs have shown all the work the surgeons did was for naught its grown back.
They said more radiation and even chemotherapy wont do much good theyll just put her through more pain and suffering.
So Mitterwager is learning to live with cancer. She spends a lot of time lying down just talking makes her head swell, and it hurts to chew. She takes her meals in pureed form these days.
Her husband Ken is constantly at her side, and shes made contact with other local cancer patients who can share her stories and her experiences.
But shes buoyed by the cards, the flowers, the letters that pour into her house every day.
When Schultz said theyd decided to put on the annual Hubert Invitational Golf Tournament in her honor, Mitterwagers first instinct was embarrassment that people were making a fuss over her.
But inside she said it feels good that people are rooting for her.
What amazes me is I have literally bushel baskets of cards, she said. And we cant have all the people in who offer to come in . . . they wouldnt fit.
Schultz said its only right to do something for Mitterwager.
She always was so active in the community, and she always gave to so many others, Schultz said. The whole community is so concerned about her. . . I thought we needed to show her support.
Schultz is hoping people will come out Saturday in droves, either to play in the tournament or eat at the benefit dinner.
She knows there are hundreds of kids who Mitterwager touched over the years and many of their families are still in the area.
Mitterwager was a longtime Spanish teacher at the former Delaware Valley Central School in Callicoon.
She retired in 2000, and began to really have fun, returning to substitute in the Sullivan West Central School District as a longterm elementary teacher.
She helped set up a Spanish program at Glory to God Christian High School in Liberty and was working in the Livingston Manor Central School District when she got sick.
Although shed been having pain in her ear for months, Mitterwager said doctors always assumed this was something minor. Until one day she got hit in the chin by her son Morgans dog and her ear started to bleed.
Thats when her Wayne Memorial doctors sent her to Sloan Kettering in the city to see specialists.
Mitterwager, who is approaching her 61st birthday in November, said even the doctors there are shocked by the way this cancer is acting in her head and in other patients who suddenly seem to be coming out of the woodwork.
They dont know whats going on in this area of our state and our country, Mitterwager said. So many people have this squamous cell cancer of the head, the throat, the chest . . . stuff just wasnt heard of like this years ago.
Our world is changing, she said.
Mitterwager said she is thankful for all the attention shes gotten, in part because it brings awareness about the disease.
She probably wont be able to attend Saturdays tournament she said going out is tough because its painful to talk, and although people mean well, they all crowd around to speak with her.
Besides, she cant get banged around something thats even kept her from playing with her grandson, Ben, who just started kindergarten this week.
But she wants people to know she appreciates everything theyve done for her.
And Schultz hopes people will come out, golfers and non-golfers alike, to help a nice woman.
The invitational will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Cricket Hill Golf Club, off Route 6 in Honesdale. The cost is $55 for members, $65 for non members, and folks who dont have a foursome will be paired with other players.
Non-golfers can attend as well, paying $22 for dinner after the tournament.
For more information, or to sign up, call Dotty Schultz at 932-8596 or Cricket Hill Golf Club at 570-226-4366.