‘Never Give Up’ The Fight Against Cancer
“Never Give Up” was the message written on a little white bag, one of many luminaria lining Main Street over the weekend of September 7 and 8. Organizers held the first Hope on Main Street on Saturday, September 7 — a brief ceremony and walk from Edmond Town Hall to the Newtown Police Department near the intersection with Route 302, across the street, and back to the town hall. The event proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.
Drawing several dozen participants, many cancer survivors or family members of those fighting the disease, and supporters filled folding chairs on the town hall lawn as cochairs Gayle DiBenedetto and Chris Farrington stood before them on Saturday evening, September 7.
Explaining the “revamped version of Relay For Life,” Ms DiBenedetto said she “wanted to do something small,” although, “not small in task,” to raise money for the cancer society and raise both awareness and support for cancer patients and caregivers.
Sitting on a bench before the event began was Wayne Fontaine and his wife and cancer survivor, Kristin Hatcher Fontaine, of Bethel. “A lot of cancer,” is in the family, Mr Fontaine explained.
Looking at the people gathered, Ms Hatcher Fontaine said, “Everyone has been touched by it.”
Also attending the Hope event was Jack Nahmias, who lost his wife, Debbie, to cancer seven years ago. He and Trish Johnson were there Saturday to support others who are suffering.
Ms Johnson has two aunts, sisters, who are currently sick with different types of cancer, she said. Ms Johnson and Mr Nahmias had both lit candles as her aunts “fight the fight,” she said.
Ms DiBenedetto welcomed people to Hope on Main Street and thanked the many community members, including First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, who had supported her idea to organize the cancer walk. She said, “We have a strong opinion about cancer: Cancer sucks, and the effort to eradicate it gets stronger every day.”
She said, “We’re here to remember the angels we’ve lost… cancer does not discriminate. It attacks every part of the body.” Yet some people “come out survivors,” she said.
About the night’s remembrance and walk, she commented, “A lot of creativity, spirit, and love went into this.”
Ms Hatcher Fontaine spoke, starting by listing the family members she has lost to cancer. She also spoke of hope as a “positive state of mind.” She said, “As a woman with four family members diagnosed with breast cancer, I was vigilant and aware of what to do to stay healthy.”
She said, “But, you’re never prepared to hear the three words, ‘You have cancer.’”
Ms Hatcher Fontaine kept “hope in the back of my mind, but it’s hard to stay positive. Having cancer makes you face all of your weaknesses.” She needed help and support, she recalled.
“I surrounded myself with friends and family,” she said. “Hope came from the community and their support.”
Ms Hatcher Fontaine continued, “I will continue to hope. I am a survivor.”
Minutes before the walk started, Ms DiBenedetto said she hopes a “higher faith will continue to watch over us and caregivers.”
As the brief discussion wound down, guests soon lined the sidewalk behind Terry Manning playing the bagpipes and walking slowly down Main Street.