Strong voice for cancer awareness stilled | January 9, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - January 9, 2009

Strong voice for cancer awareness stilled

Stacey Hartmann remembered for her courage and selflessness

by Geoff Gillette

It's funny how one word can capture the essence of a human being so fully that it stays with you always. In Stacey Hartmann's case that word would be "vibrant." Hartmann, 47, one of the Bay Area's strongest advocates for cancer awareness and treatment, died Jan. 3 after her own eight-year struggle with ovarian cancer.

Hartmann, a Danville journalist and media specialist for the Town of Danville, was diagnosed with cancer in 2000. Since that time she had waged her own campaign to see to it that other women knew to look for the signs of cancer, to seek out treatment, and to know that they were not alone in the fight against the disease.

"All I know is that she was a remarkable mom and wife," said John Hartmann. "I know it sounds cliched but she was selfless. No matter what problems she had she didn't dwell on it."

John Hartmann said that through the years, the chemo-therapy, recurrences of cancer and a secondary battle with breast cancer, his wife demonstrated unwavering strength and courage.

"People would remark they never thought she was sick," he said. "When people met her they would just think that she was a strong, healthy, vibrant woman. Her legacy is going to be in her daughters. She taught them, through osmosis or just watching her, to be strong independent women able to handle anything life throws at them."

In public life, Hartmann became an advocate. She was a leader and spokeswoman with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. She also, along with good friend Charleen Earley, co-founded Comedy Night, an annual show benefiting cancer research.

"She called me to say she'd been diagnosed with ovarian cancer," Earley recalled. "She said she wanted to be able to rely on my humor during all this."

Earley, working her way into the East Bay's standup comedy scene, took her at her word and began organizing benefit performances dedicated to Hartmann. Earley would work the talent end of the show and Hartmann handle the marketing. "It took off from there," Earley recalled. "We just had our eighth annual show at the Lesher (Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek)."

With the loss of Hartmann, the question now is whether the show will go on. "All the signs are pointing that way, but I just don't know," Earley stated. "I don't know if I could fill her shoes or fill those seats like she did."

Hartmann was also well known at the Wellness Community, a Walnut Creek facility that provides support and education for those with cancer as well as loved ones. At the organization's annual gala fundraiser, Hartmann delivered the keynote address.

Executive Director Jim Bouquin lauded Hartmann's courage and the grace with which she approached her disease. "Even when she was in the end stage she showed us how to approach that with dignity and love and was very expressive about her experience. She touched us all again at that stage in her path."

In December, Hartmann was honored at the annual Danville Community Service awards for her efforts on behalf of cancer awareness. After receiving the award Hartmann, trademark smile shining brightly, said simply, "I've lived this journey the only way I know how, and if that's helped other women that warms my heart. That makes me glad."

On her passing, Mayor Newell Arnerich said, "Through her efforts with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, she has helped save the lives of other women she will never meet. Stacey's pay-it-forward attitude was her offering to help others. Our community is deeply saddened by the loss of someone so giving to others."