American Cancer Society makes a difference

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Many times it is difficult to comprehend how cancer truly affects someone you know or anyone if you have never had it touch anyone in your life.

It is also difficult to understand where the money goes within a large organization from small fundraisers that you have locally in your small town. Please read the story below from local Lawrence County Survivor and hero Danielle Wellman, who is a true testament of what your donations can do to help those in your community.

My journey with the American Cancer Society began at two years old when I was diagnosed with malignant fibroushystiocytoma. This is a rare, adult soft tissue form of cancer. It usually eats the body before showing visible signs. At 2, I underwent radical surgery, two years of chemotherapy, and 23 rounds of radiation in 47 days. I am the first survivor of fibroushystiocytoma at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

In May 2009, I found a lump in my right breast. October 2011, it started growing and changing colors. I never thought I would hear “you have cancer again” in my lifetime so I was going to put off going to the doctor. After my mother’s insistence of going to the doctor, I went in on Nov. 1, 2011, and had an in-office biopsy done. On Nov. 9, 2011, I was diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), another rare soft tissue cancer that grows where the skin is not exposed to the sun. My world and my faith were extremely shaken because I had always had so much faith that I would never, ever have cancer again. Dec. 1, 2011, I had wide margin surgery to remove the cancer.

On June 5, 2013, I went to my breast oncologist. She saw a place on my incision scar that looked suspicious. My doctor did another in-office biopsy in order to see what it was. On June 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with a recurrence of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. This third diagnosis did not shake me as much as the second, but the diagnosis was still difficult to comprehend. On July 16, 2013, I had Mohs surgery done which removed layers of the skin making sure that all the margins were clear. Since July 19, 2013, I have been cancer free.

I am now 30 years old. I have lived a lot during my 30 years. These experiences have defined me as the person I am today.

When I was diagnosed at 2 years old with fibroushystiocytoma, the American Cancer Society helped assist somewhat with the cost of travel from Portsmouth to Columbus for my radiation and chemotherapy treatments. When we were in Columbus, the American Cancer Society contacted hotels to find complimentary places to stay while going through treatments.

In addition, this charitable organization assisted in securing a specially made small wig since I was so young and tiny when I received my chemotherapy treatment. Moreover, not only did the American Cancer Society assist with tangible necessities, but the American Cancer Society employees helped provide emotional support.

The people assisted not only me, but helped provide emotional support to my sister, mother, and father. These people helped me realize that I want to help others through their journeys.

In 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, I received the American Cancer Society’s scholarships for cancer survivors under the age of 25.

The $1,000 scholarships helped me pay for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. These scholarships are provided through funds raised at Relay for Life. May 2005 was my first Relay for Life. Since 2005, I have walked in the survivor laps each year. 2013 was my first year to be a part of the Relay planning committee. Last year, I was the event chair for Lawrence County. This year, I had my first Relay team and served on the event leadership team for Relay for Life. Currently, I am a Voice of Hope participant. The Voice of Hope is a program offered by the American Cancer Society. Voices of Hope are survivors and caregivers that share hope that we can overcome cancer. The Voices of Hope program is similar to therapy for me. Everyone shares their cancer journey stories. We also share tears and laughter. “

We are still looking for help to “Save the Day” for Lawrence County Relay For Life. Our goal this year was to raise $58,000, but due to horrible storms we were not able to have our event and have fallen short at $45,000 which prevents us from being able to assist survivors in the area as we would like to.

We are asking local businesses or families and friends to have fundraisers or send in a donation to help us “Save the Day.” Please send your donations to the American Cancer Society, 5555 Frantz Rd., Dublin, OH 43017 with attention to Lawrence County Relay For Life.

Or you can reach out to LaChona Ferguson at 740.708.5186 or LaChona.Ferguson@cancer.org. We will run a future article to thank our local heroes for “Saving the Day” for Lawrence County.

Thank you in advance for all you do to help us celebrate the survivors, support those still fighting and remembering those lost.

 

Written by Danielle Wellman, of Proctorville. Danielle is a committee member for Relay for Life as well as cancer survivor in Lawrence County.