Nina Thacker

A quarter aucton will be held at the Parkton American Legion on March 1 to benefit Nina Thacker, who faces cancer surgerylat er this month. (Submitted photo / February 20, 2014)

Chandra Parker Thacker was called to Eastern York Middle School in November to pick up her daughter Nina, 13, who complained of being short of breath and light-headed in gym class.

Thacker took Nina to the family doctor for a chest X-ray in case the pneumonia she had five months earlier had returned.

Within hours, Nina was rushed from her York County, Pa., home to Penn State Hershey Children's Center. The X-ray showed she had a grapefruit-sized tumor growing on her fifth rib. It had cracked the rib and was pressing in on her lungs.

The diagnosis came the next day. Nina learned she has Ewing's sarcoma, a form of pediatric bone cancer.

"It all happened so fast," said Thacker, a 1993 graduate of Hereford High School who grew up in Parkton. "Here I was worried her pneumonia might be back, so I was in shock when they said the word 'cancer'."

Thacker, her ex-husband, Richard, and his wife, Megan, were together when they told Nina what was happening. Thacker's fiancé, Ed Springer, had gone home to help Nina's brother, Christian, celebrate his 10th birthday that day.

"When her dad told her she had cancer, she thought he was kidding," Chandra said. "But when she realized he was serious, she didn't cry. All she asked is, 'Am I doing to die?' We said 'No, you're going to be cured'."

A week later, Nina started chemotherapy. She faces surgery at the end of February to remove the tumor, followed by 22 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.

Chandra's friends have organized a Quarter Auction fundraiser on March 1 at the Parkton American Legion, 19520 York, to help with nonmedical expenses.

"All money raised at this Quarter Auction will help put food on her table and gas in her car throughout Nina's treatment," notes a flier distributed in North County about the event.

Chandra had to quit her job at Christmas Tree Shops in York, Pa., to be able to take her daughter to Hershey, Pa., for treatments. At times, they stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey. "I'm a mom, and I know if I had a sick child, I'd want to stay home just like Chandra is," said Melissa Lam, of White Hall, who met Chandra years ago when their daughters attended Seventh District Recreation Council's pre-school program.

Lam learned about Nina's cancer on Facebook and immediately organized a fundraiser. Lam sells Scentsy candle products at home parties and her sister, Hazel Wheeler, of Parkton, sells purses for Thirty-One.

They have invited 12 vendors who will each bring nine items to be auctioned off.

Doors open at 6 p.m. so people can view the goodies. The auction starts at 7. Food will be sold, with all proceeds going to the Thacker family.

A $5 admission fee, which also goes to the Thackers, includes two auction paddles. When an item comes up for auction, anyone wishing to win it puts a quarter in a bucket and holds up a numbered paddle.

Lam will pick a number and the person whose paddle matches the number, wins the item. "It's a win-win for everybody," Lam said.

Lisa Wetzelberger, of Parkton, also met Thacker at Seventh District Recreation Council's pre-school program where her son and Nina were in the same class.

As soon as she heard about Nina's diagnosis in November, she started collecting donations of money, gift cards and Christmas presents for the four Thacker children.

She continues to accept donations. For details, contact her at lwetzelberger@comcast.net. For questions about the auction, contact Lam at mllam@comcast.net.