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Walking for life

June 19, 2004|By JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN

When Dee Lobley lost her beautiful black hair because of cancer treatments, the Hagerstown woman cried.

Then her husband, Jim, led her into the bathroom, where they stood in front of the mirror.

"Permanent," he said, pointing to his own baldness.

"Temporary," he said, pointing to hers. "Permanent. Temporary. Which one do you want, Dee?"

He has brought her laughter and perspective, Lobley said after recounting her story to the approximately 300 people gathered for the beginning of the Washington County Relay for Life on Friday night.

Lobley and a few dozen other cancer survivors - children, teenagers and adults - walked around the track at South Hagerstown High School during the hot, muggy night to kick off the American Cancer Society fund-raiser for the fight against cancer.

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Event Chairwoman Dee Surrena said 24 teams - approximately 360 people - were participating in the relay. At least one member must be walking on the track at all times.

As of 9 p.m., the event had raised $25,000 and event officials still were counting, Surrena said. The group's goal is $80,000.

Jim Lobley learned about the event less than a month ago, but by the time the walking began Friday night, he had raised $12,555.13 simply by sending 15 letters to friends. Word spread and others made donations.

"It's unbelievable the way people responded," Jim Lobley said on his third lap around the track.

Lobley, 58, wasn't sure his wife would make it to the relay kickoff because she had a bad reaction to her chemotherapy treatment on Thursday.

"I was doing it for her. She was doing it for me," said Lobley, owner of Hagerstown Kitchens Inc.

Dee Lobley was diagnosed with lung cancer in March after she went to the doctor because her leg had swelled on a flight home from Italy.

The swollen leg had nothing to do with the cancer, but turned out to be a blessing that allowed her to be diagnosed early, said Lobley, 55.

After completing two long chemotherapy treatments, Lobley is in the midst of six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She has radiation treatments five times a week and chemotherapy on Thursday, or "evil chemo day," she said.

When she completes the treatments and rests up, she will go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to have a portion of her upper left lung removed.

There were lots of tears in the beginning, but now there is lots of laughter, she said.

"We have to find something good ...," said Lobley, showing off the legs she hasn't had to shave in two months thanks to chemotherapy.

Lobley stayed briefly after the ceremonial first lap, but then headed home to let her husband finish his goal of staying on the track all night.

"I was so inspired when I saw all of these survivors here tonight because they gave me precious hope. ... that I'm going to be here next year and I'm going to be a true survivor," Lobley said.

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