Chemo therapy, radiation, surgeries — she’s had it all, and she’s had it multiple times since 1980. The cancer keeps coming back. But she will never give up.
Lynette Renfroe is one of the cancer survivor’s who walked the Survivor’s Lap during Relay For Life on Saturday at the Bentley Gardens on the Cameron University campus.
“It was bad,” Renfroe remembered. In 1980, she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting immune system. She had radiation and two surgeries. Everything seemed fine.
But in 1982, spots on her lungs were discovered. The cancer was back. She underwent two more surgeries, as well as chemo therapy in ‘82 and ‘83. The cancer disappeared, and she was able to live a cancer-free life, all the way up to 2015. Then, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had more radiation treatment, as well as 10 30-minute radiation sessions,” she recalled. She cancer went away, but just this January, she was once again diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The type of treatments hasn’t been decided yet,” Renfroe said. “I can’t have any more radiation.”
Renfroe moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma in 1990 and has been involved with Relay For Life since 1993. For her, it’s about people coming together and supporting each other.
She shares this opinion with Jessica Goodman-Upchurch, co-chair for Relay For Life of Comanche County.
“You can’t meet anybody who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way,” she said. Goodman-Upchurch’s grandmother passed away while she was in eighth grade.
“It was very quick. They gave her six months without chemo, and one year with. She passed away after seven months.”
Almost 50 percent of Americans have to battle cancer at least once in their lifetime. Relay For Life is trying to get the awareness out there, Goodman-Upchurch said, but also to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). Last year’s Relay For Life collected $40,000 in donations, and this year, the goal is to raise at least $20,000, the co-chair said. The Relay For Life event on Saturday consisted of the Survivor’s Lap, different theme laps, activities such as ring toss, a giant ball toss and the line-dancing group “Ain’t Gonna Stop Us Now.”
The money is going to the ACS, among others for better research and funding to raise survival chances for patients. Goodman-Upchurch highlighted the importance of the ACS in the fight against cancer. For example, according to her, ACS led the research that resulted in mammograms, the process of using X-rays to examine the breast for diagnosis and screening. The ACS was also heavily involved into the process of removing indoor smoking by law. The ACS also offers a helpline for patients, and provides so-called “hope lodges” to patients, Goodman-Upchurch said.
These hope lodges are facilities close to hospitals for patients who permanently reside more than 40 miles away from their treatment center. And just a few months ago, Oklahoma City received its first hope lodge close to the Oklahoma Medical Center, with 34 guest rooms.