Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to this weekend’s Chenango County Relay for Life (July 16-17 at the Chenango County Fairgrounds), we’ve asked several participants to share their personal stories with Evening Sun readers. This is Why I Relay ...
Planning Committee Member & Captain – Yacano’s Paving Relay Team
When I was seventeen, my father developed a very persistent cough. He had been a smoker of Pall Mall cigarettes for as long as I could remember. At seventeen, I thought a cough was just something you got with a cold. I encouraged him to go see the doctor to get an antibiotic. The doctor sent him for an x-ray and the report came back as lung cancer. My thought at the time was that they were wrong, cancer was nothing to worry about and that he would be fine. Within two weeks, my father died in the VA hospital in Syracuse. To say my world was upturned is a major understatement. My father died the day before his 66th birthday and four days before I started my senior year of high school. My father missed seeing me graduate from high school, go to college and graduate with a degree in Respiratory Therapy. He missed my wedding and the birth of my three children. He has missed every baseball game my children have played in and every important milestone they have achieved. I Relay because I don’t want any more fathers or mothers to miss the lives of their children and grandchildren. I Relay to find a cure. I Relay to support those who have been the patient, the caretaker and the ones left behind. I Relay to celebrate those who have won the battle and those still fighting it. I Relay to honor the memory of a man that, to me, was a true hero. I Relay for my Dad.
Participant – Family & Friends Relay Team
I have not participated at Relay For Life in a long time. My sister died of cancer at age 34, leaving 5 small children about 29 years ago. I do not believe that Relay was around then. My dad also died of cancer a few years ago, and I did the Relay for a few years after that. In 2008, my brother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and in 2009 another brother was diagnosed with rectal cancer. I have also had friends with cancer, some have survived, and some have not.
The one that made me want to do the Relay this year is my daughter-in-law Jessica. Jessica and my son Jeremey had been together about a year, when they found out that Jessica was pregnant. They were both 36, and they both extremely excited about having a baby. In April 2008, about a month before the baby was due, Jessica starting having problems. The doctors all told her that she had hemorrhoids, and that it would get better after the baby was born. Elias Daniel Flores Foster was born on May 11, 2008. Jessica continued to have problems. In August, they discovered that she had a tumor in her rectum. They operated on her, and did a temporary colostomy. They could not remove the tumor at that time because it was too close to her anus. They told her that rectal cancer was the easiest to cure, and she went through the usual six weeks of chemo and radiation. In November, she went back into surgery to have everything re-attached, and they found that the tumor had not shrunk and they were now multiplying. After several more tests, they discovered that she had a very rare form of rectal cancer called signate ring cell adenocarcinoma. Only about 0.1 percent of all cancer patients with rectal cancer have this type of cancer. Because it is so rare and so aggressive, they really do not know how to treat it. Jessica passed away on February 19, 2009, about 6 months after she was diagnosed with cancer. Jessica was a lovely girl, had a great career in front of her and we miss her terribly. And Eli, because he was so close to the cancer when he was developing, is very susceptible to it. As soon as he is old enough, they will start testing him, and keep checking him periodically, to make sure that he does not develop it. The signant ring cell cancer is believed to be hereditary.
I am doing the Relay for Life to help fight this terrible disease. The research we have today could not help Jessica, but if by chance Eli develops this type of cancer, just maybe with our help, they can find a cure.