Cancer patient receives timely donation

A Belleville woman will get by with a little help from friends she’s never even met—thanks to the efforts of a Northville business owner and the kindness of students in the Northville and Novi school districts.

Nadine and Thomas Girvan, owners of the Thomas James Salon in Northville, presented a check for more than $1,000 to Tammy Townsend of Belleville—the proceeds of a fundraiser the Girvans put on in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“It’s such a blessing,” said Townsend, who was diagnosed with cancer in July. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Nadine Girvan, who is herself a breast cancer survivor, said she’s put on fundraisers since she was diagnosed about six years ago. At first she and her staff donated money to organizations like the American Cancer Society, but eventually decided to give the donations to an individual, instead. In October, she put on the donation drive in the Northville and Novi school districts, offering to dye students’ hair pink or put pink beaded extensions in their hair for a donation. She has made it an informal competition between the schools; the last year, the Novi students earned more in donations. This year, Northville did.

She said the month-long fundraiser was so popular, she didn’t even know how many students took part.

“I lost track,” she said with a laugh, “but it was a lot.”

A bit of serendipitous luck connected the Girvans with Townsend, whom they had never met. Jan Fitzgerald, a regular client at the salon, overheard Nadine talking about the fundraiser. The wife of former Gerald Fitzgerald, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oakwood Healthcare, Inc (OHI), Fitzgerald called Nancy Gray, administrator of Women’s Health Programs for Oakwood, and asked if she knew of a patient that could benefit from the donations. At the time of her diagnosis, Townsend was between jobs and uninsured. She had her initial mammogram and biopsy at the Oakwood Breast Care Center--Wayne. Townsend is scheduled for surgery at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital at the end of the month.

“I think there God was at work in that room,” said Fitzgerald, who is also a cancer survivor.
“I think this is so generous,” she added of the Girvans’ donation “They didn’t have to do this.”

Thomas, recalling the chaotic days after Nadine was diagnosed, said he was glad to be able to do something like this.

“I remember just being overwhelmed and we had a lot of friends helping us,” he said. “This is our chance to give back.”

Townsend, who lost her 6-year-old son Tyler to cancer six years ago, said she appreciates the help and hopes to help others, in return. She said she has since come to terms with her diagnosis and counts each day as a blessing.

“I’m not scared anymore,” she said. “I’m ready to go. I’m going to beat this. God is making me stronger.”

She said she is planning to make jewelry and donate half of the proceeds to help fight the disease, as well.

“It just makes me want to give back,” said Townsend. “I want to give back to everyone.”

CUTLINES: (Above) Tammy Townsend of Belleville (right) hugs Nadine Grivan, owner of the Thomas James Salon in Northville, after receiving a donation from a fundraiser she put on in October. (Below) Nadine and Thomas Grivan present a donation to cancer patient Tammy Townsend (center) of Belleville with a check for more than $1,000 on Friday. Grivan, a cancer survivor, put on a fundraiser in the Northville and Novi school districts in October. Jan Fitzgerald (right), wife of former Oakwood Healthcare CEO Gerald Fitzgerald, brought them together.