The Long County Relay for Life planning committee held a breakfast last Saturday to honor cancer survivors and caregivers.
About 40 people attended the event, which was held at First Baptist Church of Ludowici. Of those attending, 17 either were cancer survivors or people who have cared for a cancer patient.
Local Chairperson Deborah Wells introduced guest speakers Rita Wells, who is a cancer survivor, and Wallace Shaw, who was a caregiver for his late wife, Jean, who died of cancer.
Wells said that before her diagnosis, she never worried much about her health. She knew mammograms were important and that women of a certain age need to have them annually, but she never did. In 2010, her friends finally talked her into having a test. The results were not what she wanted to hear. She said that when a biopsy was conducted, the wait for the results was difficult.
“It’s a long weekend when you’re having to wait on your results to find out if it is cancer or not,” Wells said.
Once she discovered that she had cancer, Wells said that daily trips to Savannah became the norm. She had 16 radiation treatments. To make the experience bearable, she did frequently treat herself to something sweet.
“There was one thing for sure — if that Krispy Kreme “hot” sign was on, we were going to stop and get some donuts,” Wells said.
She said that she has been cancer-free for three years.
“I preach early detection now to everybody. You know your body better than anyone, and you know when you need to be checked,” Wells said.
Shaw discussed his experience in being a caregiver.
“When she was diagnosed with cancer, it was probably one of the worst days of my life,” he said.
Shaw said that his wife’s regimen of chemotherapy was grueling. After her first treatment, she began to lose her hair. He said that his wife was a tall and healthy woman, but the cancer diminished her stature over time. As her condition worsened, she only wanted him to help her.
“I was her total caregiver for eight months … she got to the point where she didn’t want anyone else to do anything for her, nobody but me, and I did everything that she asked,” he said.
Shaw said that his wife died Aug. 23, 2013. They were the only ones home at the time. He said that her passing and seeing what she went through changed him. He appreciates the time that he had with her, realizes how precious life is and tries to be a better person,
Shaw encouraged the caregivers, saying they can get through the difficulty.
“If you love that person, there is nothing that you can’t do to take care of that person,” he said.
The Long County Relay for Life is scheduled for May 16-17 at Veterans Stadium. For more information, call 912-312-1838 or 1-866-227-0797 or go to www.relayforlife.org/longcountyga.