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Homer and Loretta Gelbaugh

Ask cancer survivor Loretta Gelbaugh and her husband Homer of rural Pennsylvania if their marriage of 20 years together has flown by, and they'll tell you undoubtedly so.

Homer and Loretta married 20 years ago and moved to rural Pennsylvania at the same time. “We had big life plans . . . and it was a life-changing year,” Loretta recalls.

They built a house addition to their historical log cabin, plus two apartments, so at the Gelbaugh home, there is always room for one more: from six sons, two great-grandmothers, great Aunt Mary, three cats, to three dogs, and one horse—Mr. Toby. “You would have to blow me out of here to get me to move back to city life,” Homer says fondly about his country estate.

Yet another life-changing year of a different sort came in 1994, when Loretta's annual mammogram revealed she had breast cancer. She was stunned. “It was a bolt out of the blue. I mean, I had no family history of breast cancer, no symptoms . . . nothing,” she says. After a mastectomy at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center, where she says she was never treated like a number but with genuine caring, Loretta became an advocate for annual mammograms. She spreads the word about mammograms to every woman she knows, while never letting her cancer experience stop her from living a full, happy life. “I don't even think about it,” she says. “Why dwell?”

Because of her cancer experience, the Gelbaughs began their relationship with the American Cancer Society and the planned giving officer in their area, Reath Edwards. “Reath's a peach,” Loretta says. They began a dialogue about including the Society in their wills in order to help make a difference in the fight against cancer. “It takes money to run [programs and research in] organizations like the Society,” she notes, “and the timing was perfect.”

Homer and Loretta also generously donated a hardly used $9,000 electric wheelchair to the new 37-room Hope Lodge® planned for the Fox Chase Campus.

The Gelbaughs continue to keep active, just as they always have. They are big-game hunters and liken their living room to a natural history and trophy museum. Homer rides Mr. Toby, and Loretta takes pictures and raises Irish Wolfhounds to relax. Their nearby family, including five grandchildren, keeps them more than busy. “We like to make our lives a service of giving and doing for others,” Loretta says. “It just comes naturally.”

To find out which charitable giving option best fits your specific situation and to help us make a difference in the fight against cancer, please contact an American Cancer Society estate planning professional in your area by calling toll free 800-227-1885.