Warriors for the Cebulas

Karen and Rich Cebula are the kind of friends anyone would be lucky to have. They are funny, loving, and always supporting their friends and family through hard times. They love music, parties, rescuing puppies and cats, and love Penn State football. Karen and Rich love to travel, eat good food, and watch bad TV---they are a wonderful couple.  Although they have struggled with many things, they always keep moving forward. That is, until this year, when both Karen and Rich were diagnosed with cancer just months apart. Their active life is now filled with doctors’ appointments, tests, treatment, surgery, and fear of the future. I want to share their struggles because it has not only impacted them physically, but financially as well. 

 Here is Karen and Rich’s story:

 Hailing from Northeast PA (NEPA), Karen and Rich met, fell in love, and married in 2000. They were inseparable-loving NEPA pizza and the Nittany  Lions. Rich, an Army Veteran, was chosen to return to service after 9/11 and was stationed in South Korea. Life apart was hard, but they both felt strongly that it was for the greater good and looked forward when Rich would be returned home.

 Upon his return in 2004, the couple was stationed in Virginia which they have remained and now call home. But if you ask them about their favorite pizza, both will agree there is nowhere to get good pizza in VA---they still love there NEPA pizza J. Karen and Rich hoped to grow their family but that path became difficult and at times, heartbreaking. But even that, the couple turned into a positive—adopting cats and falling in love with a little pug, named Bella! Their life motto—you and me, babe! And so, life continued…Karen graduated with masters of counseling and became a full-time therapist!  Even with the setbacks of job loss, loss of beloved family members, and house issues, this couple made through all of it! They hosted parties, went on outings, and made the most of life. Things were in a upswing…and Karen and Rich were grateful.

 Then in May of 2017, Karen was diagnosed with a precancerous rectal polyp that would require surgery in three months. Simultaneously, Rich had been suffering with seemingly an old knee injury that he re-aggravated.  In August 2017, 3 days after Rich’s 42nd Birthday, Rich was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  Bone cancer that only affects 2% of adults. This cancer was in his left femur and knee. Treatment is aggressive and so is the cancer. Rich underwent 3 rounds of chemo, each being two full days long. Rich had to stop working in October 2017. Treatment and getting ready for surgery was his full time job. Karen was there for every medical appointment, treatment session---they were in this together. Partners.

 After chemo, Rich underwent surgery to replace his knee and most of his femur. The recovery has not been easy, but he persisted to get back to his life and not let this diagnosis define him. In January 2018, Rich started chemo again but his body couldn’t handle it and they had to be cut short. Rich returned to work in late April 2018. His return to work has not been easy—walking is hard, sitting is difficult, and the worry weighs on him.  He is permanently handicapped and has a significant limp. Rich never received the long term disability he thought he was eligible for---a devastating  reality for Karen and Rich, as they were counting on those funds to help offset the cost of mounting medical bills.

 In December, Karen’s mother and sister were diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent surgery. Both did wonderful and need no further treatment. In an attempt to be proactive and being at a higher risk factor, Karen decided to have a preventative hysterectomy. And in February 2018,  Karen was called into her doctors to learn she has ovarian cancer. Karen was scheduled to remove lymph nodes to properly stage the cancer. Seemingly, it was to a robotic surgery that  allow her to go home afterwards. Unfortunately due to complications, it became a full surgery due to a lymph node that was twisted around a nerve in her leg.  The surgery left Karen with limited use of her leg and has caused her to difficulty being mobile.  Her Chemo treatments will start on June 22nd and last for several months. 

 Being self-employed allowed Karen to take time off of work to assist Rich through his treatment as he was incapacitated most of the time. Now Karen will need to take more time off. Although the flexibility is wonderful, Karen has no benefits and only gets paid when she sees client. The financial burden for this couple is high—for the couple, who never asked for help, now needs help.

I know that  that their story is not over and that friends reading will help any way they can.  The need is real and urgent--these funds will help with medical co-pays and house bills that are behind. Please, donate today and let us help them get through these troubled waters. 

Thank you


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Organizer and beneficiary

Gwendolyn Munley McQueeney 
Arlington, VA
Karen Cebula 
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