After Lori Kleich was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she wanted answers as to why people develop this terrible disease.
Told she had a short time to live, "she took it upon herself to start researching and studying alternative medicine and naturopathy. That was her full-time job, to try to help herself," said her husband, William "Loopy" Kleich.
"She originally went the traditional route of chemotherapy, mastectomy surgery and radiation, but it kept coming back. We thought there had to be another answer out there. I think if we had gone that route originally … she would still be here today," he said.
Lori died last February at age 45 from complications of cancer. Loopy, who wears her wedding ring on a chain around his neck, said a thousand mourners attended her memorial service. He credited Lori as the driving force behind their Chippewa Falls business, Loopy's Saloon, Grill & Event Dome. She designed their town of Wheaton dream home during her illness. In his wife's memory, he has established the Loopy and Lori Kleich Endowment Fund to help local families find and fund alternative, holistic cancer treatments. He also wants to fund research into cancer prevention. "We're not looking for a cure. We're looking for a cause," Loopy said. "No one has answers," he said, noting the United States is among the countries with the highest cancer rates.
The couple traveled to Mexico and Arizona to obtain naturopathic treatments for Lori, a believer in a chemical-free, sugar-free diet. Naturopathy is a system of alternative medicine based on the theory that diseases can be successfully treated or prevented without the use of drugs and surgery by techniques such as control of diet, exercise and massage to assist the natural healing process.
Lori responded extremely well to the treatments, well enough that they could hike for five or 10 miles, he said, adding even her doctors were surprised by her energy and the slow progression of her cancer. Insurance often doesn't cover alternative approaches, such as nutritional supplements and acupuncture, which can be expensive. "She said when I get through this, I would like to help other people," he said. "We're not anti-medicine, but … we wanted to help people understand there are alternatives out there besides chemo and radiation."
Lori started a small naturopathic group for people to learn about alternative treatments and nutrition. Loopy would like to revive the group someday.
"Our goal is to help find answers so people suffer less, to make people healthier and living healthier lifestyles. She was into body, mind and soul. They are all connected and she understood that," he said.
For the past three years, Loopy's Saloon has sponsored an annual triathlon. Loopy renamed this year's event the Loop de Lori, with proceeds going to the fund established through the Community Foundation of Chippewa County. The Sept. 9 triathlon involved a 5K run, a 14.2-mile bike ride and a 3.5-mile kayak competition. "It's funny as she never would have run it in her life. She loved water, but she wasn't a swimmer or biker," he said.
Loopy and friends have donated money in Lori's name to the Chippewa Riverfront park project. "She loved Chippewa Falls. She loved the community and the people here. We would take walks all the time around town," Loopy said.
Friends bought a swing for the park. "We invite people to come and enjoy the new park and think of her when they take a walk or sit swinging," he said.
Grants support organizations recommended by fund advisors.