EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally posted on Wyandotte Patch on Feb. 9. Today it was chosen for Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day feature.
Andrea Clary Vos may be battling stage four lung cancer, but she said she’s more determined than ever to make sure she leaves behind “less of a mess (and) more of a legacy.”
As a local antiques and collectibles dealer, Vos has accumulated a lot of items over the years. With the help of friends and family, she is hosting her own estate sale next month.
The 55-year-old Wyandotte woman said she felt a little awkward about running her own sale, but knows she’s doing it for all the right reasons.
“I can't bear the thought of my family having to sort through all this ‘stuff,’” she said. “Besides, some of my “treasures” need to find new owners who will love them like I did.”
is helping by making their hall at 963 Oak St. available at a discounted rate for the sale, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2 and 3.
Vos said she’s enlisted the help of her husband, Neven; three children, Sara, Michael and Ian; her sister, Cindi Ratliff; associates from Jamie's Attic Estate Sales; and many friends and family.
"I may not have achieved my philosophical goals in life, but having a successful sale is a tangible goal I can reach,” Vos said. “It will gladden my heart to know I am not leaving a big mess behind and I'm helping my family and other cancer patients in a practical way.”
First diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008, Vos said she had surgery in January 2009 and was told by her surgeon, “Sorry, there's nothing we can do for you.”
The median life expectancy for people with her diagnosis was about 8 months, she was told, sending her into a downward spiral of depression.
“I was devastated by the thought of leaving my three children behind and never enjoying grandmotherhood,” she said. “There were so many things I had yet to do, but I felt immobilized by grief.”
After successfully completing chemotherapy in 2009 and then targeted radiation in 2010, Vos said she began to believe she was winning the battle.
Within months, however, other health struggles arose.
Vos’ mother, Nina Clary, and sister-in-law, Wanda Clary, were both diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Both women have since died.
In November, Vos received the news she was hoping to never hear. Her own cancer was back. She is now undergoing alternate chemotherapy regimens after having had an allergic reaction to her previous treatment.
“In retrospect, I sometimes think I was given the extra time with my family to help them through some very tough times, and also so I could have time with my grandchild, the beautiful Ms. Simone, born in June of 2010,” she said.
“The extra time has truly been a miracle, and perhaps that will continue. Who knows? One of my siblings said it perfectly, ‘We need to pray for the best but prepare for the worst.’ That's what I'm trying to do.”
Vos has been a lifelong collector of antiques and collectibles, and has been a dealer in her own and many other shops for years. Her “treasures” number in the thousands, she said, and run the gamut from old correspondence, journals, and other ephemera to tiny buttons, pins and old Wyandotte collectibles.
China cabinets and furnishings, glass and pottery, paper goods and jewelry, books and postcards, old toys and baby items also will be for sale.
“I think I may have something from just about every category of collecting, not to mention a massive amount of household goods accumulated over the course of 25 years in the same house with three children, plus a few extras along the way,” she said.
In addition to selling her own goods, Vos said, there will be a separate area where cancer awareness products will be sold, with all profits going to the American Cancer Society.
As an estate sale veteran, Vos said, she knows firsthand the trials and tribulations many families experience when having to dispose of a loved one's belongings.
“I don't want to do that to my family,” she said. “And, on the up side, these “things” deserve to get into the hands of someone else who will appreciate them. Hopefully, this will be a win-win situation for everyone involved. That can be my legacy.”