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To Endure And Prevail: With Thanksgiving Approaching Let Jan Fleming Know She Does Not Stand Alone

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 22, 2010

Jan Fleming is an exceptionally thoughtful person. She has been kind enough to send notes to the Pundit anytime we’ve had an achievement and to acknowledge other industry members when they have accomplished something.

In fact just before PMA, when we published this piece about Tonya Antle’s retirement from Earthbound Farms, Jan sent off this note:

What a wonderful tribute to a truly remarkable person.

Thanks for always being there to remind all of us of the privilege it is to work in this industry where we get to meet such amazing, dedicated professionals (including you, of course).

Have a great convention. We’ll have 3 people from Strube there, but, unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

— Janet Fleming
CEO
Strube Celery and Vegetable Company
Chicago, Illinois

Jan supported her recently deceased father, Bob Strube Sr., in all his endeavors. She supported her husband, Tim Fleming, through periods of great service to the industry including a term as Chairman of United.

She has nurtured a crop of perhaps a dozen Strubes and Flemings who now run the place.

She now could use our prayers and support.

Less than a month ago, she contacted her doctor with abdominal pain. In a whirlwind of assessments, she came to be diagnosed with appendicular cancer, which she also was told was mucinous adenocarcinoma.

She was sent to Pittsburgh to meet with Dr. David L. Bartlett, Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Surgery. Dr. Bartlett is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on the treatment of abdominal malignancies.

Having worked through the Pundit Poppa’s own Leukemia, we know it sounds absurd to say but Jan is very lucky.

With a large family, the business can run easily without Jan and her husband Tim. So they were free to seek the very best treatment. In accordance with their values, they have lived prudently and so can afford the travel and time off from work and other costs that prevent even people with the best health insurance from receiving the best care.

Tim, her husband of 43 years, is alive and well and by her side — so she need not face this alone.

Though they have no family in Pittsburgh, another former United Chairman lives there — Alan Siger of Consumers Produce Co., Inc.

Alan and his wife Pat immediately stepped up and let the Flemings know that they most certainly did have family in town. It was an example of the produce community at its very best.

As we write, Jan is scheduled for surgery the day before Thanksgiving. There will be chemo afterwards and, maybe, more surgery. The doctors have explained that the cancer is treatable. That is the great blessing. But the whole process will not be easy.

Perhaps as we all prepare for Thanksgiving, Jan’s situation can remind us all to be thankful for our many blessings. For all the blessings she has, Jan would surely rather be home, and to think of a lonely Thanksgiving on a liquid diet in a distant city far from home can help us remember what we all really value.

Fighting cancer is hard. It requires great motivation on the part of the patient. Before the Pundit Poppa went into the hospital, we gathered the whole Prevor clan, including his newly born granddaughter whom he had never seen, to remind him that life was worth fighting for.

Perhaps you can spare a moment to let Jan know that we are rooting for her and that this Thanksgiving, although it may be cold in Pittsburgh, she is held warmly in the prayers of produce industry friends throughout the world.

If you feel so moved, please send a note to Jan here.

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