Fund-raising calendar chronicles residents battles against cancer | PostIndependent.com

Fund-raising calendar chronicles residents battles against cancer

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff

RIFLE Christy Walters didnt expect to be a public face of cancer when she declared war on her own disease three years ago. Now she is Mrs. August 2006 in a Rifle cancer survivors calendar, which a Rifle Relay for Life team is selling to raise money for the American Cancer Society.Theresa Hamilton is the leader of the Relay for Life team behind the calendar. The team consists mostly of Garfield School District Re-2 employees. Hamilton interviewed and photographed 12 cancer survivors and their families for the calendar. Jeans Printing made 500 copies of the calendar free of charge, and is now selling about 100 copies, along with the Grand River Medical Center gift shop, Town & Country Vet and Wells Fargo in Rifle. Hamilton and her team hope for a $10 donation for each calendar, which will in turn raise $5,000 for the American Cancer Society.Right now I would project that well be a little short of our goal, Hamilton said. But Im really pleased with the response. These calendars have ended up all over town. It was so powerful and so moving to talk to these people and hear their stories.Walters said she thinks the calendar is a great idea. She bought several copies of the calendar for her family. When Walters first discovered a lump, she had just finished breast-feeding her youngest daughter, Elly. Initially, doctors thought the lump could be related to breast-feeding. By the time Walters was diagnosed with breast cancer, the disease was relatively advanced. She and her husband, Roger, decided to fight the disease aggressively. She had a bilateral mastectomy, and, because the cancer was estrogen-fed, she had a hysterectomy as well.Three days later, I think I was walking a mile, Walters said. I was so mad at my body for betraying me. I was young. I didnt smoke. I didnt drink excessively. I exercised regularly.Walters said she and her family and friends laughed a lot during her illness and used humor to get them through the hard times. Before she went in for her mastectomy, a friend threw her a bye-bye boobies party and presented her with a Rice Krispies cake shaped like two breasts. After her surgery, Walters went through four rounds of chemotherapy and 25 days of radiation therapy to irradiate the cancer from 17 of her 18 lymph nodes. Her hair fell out. She bought a wig. But her daughter Taylor hated the wig.Its not you, Mom. Its not you, she would say. So I didnt wear the wig, Walters said. Walters was honest with her then-5-year-old daughter. Shes my worrier. She could tell something was wrong. We were very upfront with her. We told her exactly what was going on. I think what you dont know can be a lot scarier than what you do know, Walters said. Unfortunately, my parents both died of cancer, so she knew a lot, Walters said. It took Taylor two days to come back to ask me if I was going to die. I told her I might.Walters said the cancer consumed her familys life for eight months, but when she emerged, she felt cured. She still does. She said she expected to worry about the disease returning and think about it daily. Shes surprised that hasnt happened to her. It was part of my journey, Walters said. It was the circumstance. Taylor had to see what to do when met with an adverse situation.Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103ahmiller@postindependent.com


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