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Judy Whitehead: We must never give up in fight against cancer

I have lived in this area for most of my life and am always astounded by the generosity of Western New Yorkers. Especially in the warmer months, you can find a race or fundraiser to participate in and donate to nearly every weekend.

The weekend of June 11 was no exception. I am not an athlete, but I do enjoy participating in fundraisers for the needy as well as those that raise money to fund medical research.

We are lucky to have Roswell Park Cancer Institute at our doorstep. The excellent staff treats and takes care of so many people, not only from our area but from all over the world.

This year cancer came to roost in our family as my young daughter-in-law was diagnosed. She has had a rocky year, enduring surgery and treatment. But she has persevered with the help of many supporters, friends and family along the way who helped her cope.

We attended the Susan G. Komen Western New York Race for the Cure at RiverWorks along with her family, friends and co-workers. We all know someone who has battled cancer. It seems to touch everyone’s life in some way.

Cancer is an emotional roller coaster for all involved. Once diagnosed, the nagging thought remains that some day it might return in another manifestation. Strangers in this large group share that same scary thought that bonds them forever.

This was the first time our family and friends participated in the Komen race. I was amazed and delighted to see how many people were donating their time, effort and money to make this a great success.

So many brave men and women took part. Some formed teams and gave their groups personal names, each one more original than the other.

My daughter-in-law’s group name was “The Breast Team Ever” and she was able to raise several thousand dollars to fund the cause.

Many sponsors generously donated bandanas, scarves, bags, water bottles, snacks and photos of the participants. Live music played in the background. Each team had its own assigned table and people seemed to put their worries aside for the day and just enjoy the friendships they had made.

The spirit in the room ran high. All who attended were there for the same reason – trying to stamp out cancer, sharing their stories and forging ahead into their unknown futures. I have never seen a more brave and determined group, and I felt privileged to have been a part of their lives and their fight for the cause.

Treatment, research and determination to find a cure are never ending and donations are needed now more than ever. What a worthy cause that touches so many of us. We will continue to fight this battle and endure until each type of cancer is cured.

I know we are making great strides in treatment and research at Roswell Park and around the world.

My admiration for those who are fighting for their lives will continue. Their bravery and determination are to be commended.

Life is precious, and cancer patients seem to realize this gift more than most. I do believe their great attitudes contribute to their recovery.

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