Survivors, caregivers gather for annual dinner

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Annual Pike County Relay for Life Survivors Dinner is a celebration of prayers answered and hopes realized.

A large gathering of cancer survivors and their caregivers attended Tuesday night’s Survivors Dinner at Park Memorial United Methodist Church in Troy. The dinner is a celebration of life and, as Sharla Davenport, Relay chair, said “the reason we Relay.”

Davenport spoke briefly to the dinner honorees with her 14-year-old daughter at her side.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I understand some of what you have gone through because my daughter, Delaney, is a cancer survivor.”

Each person at the dinner had a story that could have been told — a story of a battle with the “C” word – a battle that was fought on the front lines and in the trenches.

“We all have our battles and so far we have made it through,” said Rosa Lee Boswell, a retired registered nurse. “I was diagnosed with colon cancer 54 years ago. That was back when they didn’t know much to do for you. Two good friends, one of them a scrub nurse, had just died with cancer. I thought I would be next.”

Boswell said lives are being saved every day because of the research that is being funded by the American Cancer Society.

Fred Davis, honorary co-chair of the 2012 Pike County Relay for Life campaign, said that cancer is like the Greek mythical beast hydra.

“If one head is cut off, four grow back,” Davis said. “We must support research if we are to defeat this beast.”

Davis said gave credit for his survival of cancer to “good medicine, good science, good caregivers and a lot of prayer.”

The work “prayer” was the word spoken most often as cancer survivors took their turns at the podium.

Patty Saddler, honorary co-chair, said, too, that cancer is a beast and fighting it is a “tough journey” but prayer has sustained her this far. And, she will depend on prayer to carry her through whatever is before her.

“I believe in prayer,” she said. “It’s hard not to be afraid but I have to let go of my fear and try to live fully in the present.”

Saddler told of waiting to hear the doctor’s report on whether the chemo she is undergoing is working.

“When he opened the door, I felt uplifted, like I was floating,” she said. “It was prayer that was carrying me. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that someone is praying for you.”

Prayer takes away fear and worry.

“I don’t worry about tomorrow. I live for today,” Saddler said.

“I can be treated but I can’t be cured but I am so humbled by the enormous stroke of God’s hand.”

Several special awards were presented at the Survivors’ Dinner.

Darrell Calhoun was named the Caregiver of the Year for his caring and devotion to his wife, Tammy, as she was going through cancer treatments.

With two young children, Tammy Calhoun said it was important for her to keep a positive attitude and have a positive spirit. Her husband was right beside her encouraging her all the way.

But, when they were home alone and her spirits broke, he was the one who gave her the courage and strength to face tomorrow.

Awards were presented to the youngest, the oldest and the longest survivor of the cancer.

Little Will Tillery was recognized as the youngest survivor, Martha Griffin, 96, was honored as the oldest survivor and Rosa Lee Boswell as the longest survivor at 54 years.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the Pike County Relay for Life culminating event at the Troy Recreation Park soccer fields Friday night. The Survivors Walk is at 6 p.m. and is a highlight of the event and “the reason we Relay.”