A triumph over cancer

June 16, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Jone Bowman credits a positive attitude, a supportive family and quality local medical care with helping her win her battle against breast cancer.

The Williamsport resident and other cancer survivors will celebrate their triumph over the disease Friday, June 20, when they kick off the American Cancer Society's Washington County Relay For Life with the first lap around the track at South Hagerstown High School.

Butterflies will be released into the skies above the track to symbolize the survivors' courage and victory.

About 40 teams of walkers are expected to register for this year's overnight relay, which raises money for local cancer patient services, educational programs and cancer research, says Janeen Baker, a community specialist for American Cancer Society's Mid-Atlantic Division.


Employees of Williamsport-based D.M. Bowman Inc. will once again walk in honor of Jone Bowman - and in memory of those loved ones and co-workers who didn't win their battles with the disease.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate," says team co-captain Matt Donegan, who lost his grandmother to liver cancer in 1995.

The following year, Jone Bowman was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

"It was a shock because I was so healthy," says Bowman, 63, of Williamsport.

Determined to maintain a positive attitude, she learned everything she could about breast cancer and underwent surgery to remove the lump within two weeks of the diagnosis. Bowman found out two days later that the tumor was malignant and that the cancer had spread into a lymph node, she says.

The unwavering support of her husband, Don Bowman, gave her strength as she waited to learn whether or not the cancer had spread into her bones, she says.

"That was the scariest time for me," says Bowman, whose bone scan was negative for cancer. "My husband was a really great supporter."

And D.M. Bowman Inc. continues to support the fight against cancer. The 12-strong team hopes this year to top its 2002 donation of more than $14,000 to the American Cancer Society, says Donegan, the company's public relations coordinator and human resources assistant.

"A lot of people have the perception that we just write a check out. That's not the case," he says. "We really raise the money one dollar at a time."

The Bowman team - including Donald and Jone Bowman, co-captains Donegan and Cindy Joiner, Martha Gisriel, Norma Buzzard, Eric Linn, Wendy Newlin, Sharon Cox, Randi Brown, Linda Baer and Kristie Hoak - hosts basket bingos, raffles, golf tournaments, hot dog sales and dunking booths throughout the year to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, Donegan says.

The team has raised more than $60,000 for the American Cancer Society since it was organized in 1997, he says.

The Washington County Relay For Life has raised about $339,500 for patient services, educational programs and cancer research since 1997, Baker says.

The goal for this year's Washington County relay, which began in 1995, is $100,000, she says.

Sixty percent of the funds raised at the relay will remain in Washington County to help cover the costs of patient services, educational programs and administrative expenses, Baker says, while the remaining proceeds will go to the national organization for cancer research.

Relay supporters also can purchase luminaries in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of cancer victims. The luminaries will light the high school track at dusk on Friday.

The Washington County Commissioners will present a proclamation of support for the event at this year's relay, Baker says.

More than six years after recovering from a mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstructive surgery, Jone Bowman looks back at her bout with cancer with the same upbeat attitude she adopted to help beat it.

"I've often told people it was for the better," Bowman says. "I always did appreciate life and love life, but now I appreciate it even more."

For more information about the 2003 Washington County Relay For Life, or to make a donation to the American Cancer Society, call 1-888-474-3044.

The American Cancer Society's Washington County Relay For Life

South Hagerstown High School, 1101 S. Potomac St.

  • Friday, June 20

  • 4 p.m., team registration

  • 6 p.m., survivors celebration

  • 7 p.m., opening ceremony

  • Dusk, luminary ceremony

    Relay continues throughout the night.

  • Saturday, June 21

  • 9 a.m., closing ceremony.
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