Friends help woman keep up her cancer fight
Donations can be made to the Gayle Bean benefit account via GoFundMe or c/o Alpine Bank/James Bean or Heather Young, 2200 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs 81601.
Gayle Bean has been on both sides of the cancer battle.
Five years ago, she lost her sister Janean to breast cancer, standing beside her and supporting her all the way.
Then, in June 2014 Bean received word from doctors that she had stage 4 small cell lung cancer.
A year and a half later, she knows her own time is limited, but she’s living every day to the fullest, enjoying special friendships and looking forward to as many adventures as she can squeeze in.
That fight is something Bean said she wished she had seen more of in her sister.
“I told myself from the start that I wanted to fight this,” she said this week. “I’m still positive about it. I know it’s reality, but I plan on sticking around for a while.”
Friends and other supporters are helping her maintain that fighting attitude by organizing a benefit on her behalf this Sunday, Jan. 31, at her favorite gathering place, Big Daddy’s Sports Bar in West Glenwood.
The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. A $15 donation includes a smothered burrito, draft beer, live music, silent auction and prize drawings, including one for a Las Vegas getaway.
Big Daddy’s owner Laura Warren said a similar benefit for Bean in August 2014 raised about $12,000 to help with her living and health-care needs. She said they are hoping to have similar success with this weekend’s benefit.
A GoFundMe account (see accompanying box) and Gayle Bean benefit account at Alpine Bank have already raised more than $3,000.
Bean, 44, grew up in Rifle and Glenwood Springs and has two grown children, Jimmy and Savannah Butcher, ages 21 and 19, respectively.
She has worked for numerous banks, including several years at Alpine, and was an accountant at Carpet One in Glenwood Springs.
When Bean learned of her cancer diagnosis, longtime friend Heather Young was by her side, accompanying her to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“Whatever it takes, I wanted to be there for her because I knew she would do it for me,” Young said, prompting an immediate “Yes I would” from Bean.
“She’s like my sister,” Bean said.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve all this, and I’m just so amazed at the support this community has given me,” she said.
She said that support extends to her children and her parents, Jim and Pam Bean of Mesquite, Nevada.
Bean also praised the doctors, nurses and staff at Valley View Hospital’s Calaway-Young Cancer Center, where she has been receiving treatments.
“Everyone there is just so supportive and optimistic,” she said. “Of course, the doctors give you the statistics and are very honest, but everyone there works hard to make you feel comfortable.”
Her praise extends to the two major donors for whom the cancer center is named, philanthropist Jim Calaway and Bob Young, founder of Alpine Bank who is also her friend Heather’s father.
“This community owes a lot to them to bring this great facility here to Glenwood Springs,” Bean said.
A stylist will also be on hand for the party this Sunday providing haircuts, and full shaves if anyone is so inclined, in support of Bean. The hair will be donated to provide wigs for children suffering from cancer.
Bean and Young have also been busy making their special stained-glass art to sell that day.
And, expect a little karaoke, perhaps. Bean’s favorite band is Fleetwood Mac, which she’s not shy about singing during Big Daddy’s regular karaoke nights.
After the big party, Bean said she is looking forward to watching the Denver Broncos square off against the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, for which she has a reserved seat at the bar at Big Daddy’s.
“Sure, I believe they’re going to win,” Bean said. “I am the optimist, after all.”
She and Young are also planning another trip to Jamaica later next month, their second in less than a year.
“It’s just a great place for her to relax,” Young said. “That’s what she needs right now, no worries, no problems.”
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