Relay kick-off honors cancer survivors

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Exactly 24 years to the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Barbara Spahos stood before a gathering of Relay for Life volunteers and told her story of survival.

She recounted how the doctors told her she should go home and spend time with her young son, Nick, who was only 18 months old at the time. The doctors gave her options for the treatment of her cancer, which they said was one of the fastest growing of its kind.

Spahos underwent a painful surgery, known as a semi-radical mastectomy, to remove the cancerous parts of her breast.

But the surgery was only the beginning of a life-long period of recovery for her. Spahos still has routine checkups, and each time the doctors must do a biopsy on a suspicious lump, she said she worries.

Her husband, Braxton, recounted his own experience during this difficult time in their lives, where he cared for his wife and her condition. He told the group he did not consider himself a caregiver, only one member of a partnership.

In 1984 when the Spahos family dealt with their bout with cancer, times were different. Mr. Spahos said he remembers that people did not know as much about cancer as they do now, and many people were not sure how to deal or interact with someone who had cancer.

Still, the family endured, and Mr. Spahos said he credits it to their support of each other.

Mrs. Spahos&8217; experience and those of other cancer survivors in the area were the focus of the evening Thursday night at the Marengo County Relay for Life kick off party.

People like Melvin Yelverton, a city councilman who only just recovered from a bout with cancer this summer, and Foy and Hettie Lee Wright, a couple in their 80s who both made it through cancer.

In addition to remembering their experiences, the group honored the other facets of the America Cancer Society&8217;s mantra &8212; Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back &8212; by beginning to gather information and volunteers for their main event in April.

The group is looking for people to head up committees to both have teams and fundraise for the project. Some of last year&8217;s biggest donors &8212; who were honored with bronze, gold and platinum awards &8212; included Foster Farms, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Linden Quest Club and Rock Tenn.

If you would like more information contact Wendy Brown at 334-289-4994 or e-mail Jennifer.Hallman1@cancer.org.