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Cancer survivors participate in ninth annual Chambersburg Relay for Life

June 18, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Brooke Stevens, 15, Adam Heintzelman, 12, and Pam Stevens, from left, kick up the pace in the American Cancer Society's ninth annual Chambersburg (Pa.) Relay for Life at Norlo Park in Fayetteville, Pa., on Saturday.
By Roxann Miller

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. — When Rita Duke was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was terrified. She didn't think she would live to see another Christmas with her children let alone live to see her children marry or become parents.

"I had four children and no children were married. I had no grandbabies, no prospects of grandbabies, and I thought, 'No, this can't be yet. I have to have more time so I can have all these things.' And I got it," Duke said.

Duke, along with 140 others, participated in the American Cancer Society's ninth annual Chambersburg Relay for Life at Norlo Park, which started Friday night and ended Saturday.

As a breast cancer survivor for 13 years, Duke and her team, the Brindle Girls, have participated in the relay since 2003 as a way to give back.

Duke now is a grandmother of three, with one more grandchild on the way.

"Every day, I feel really blessed," Duke said. "This is something I have to do. I'm cancer-free, and I need to help raise money for the American Cancer Society."

For the past several years, the Brindle Girls have raised the most money for the Chambersburg Relay for Life. Over the past two years, they have raised more than $11,000.

Duke's youngest daughter, Monica Heinbaugh, was 17 when Rita was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, Heinbaugh is 29 and expecting her first child in January.

"Back then, you didn't hear as much about it, and you weren't really sure what the outcome would be," Heinbaugh said. "Even chemo and the treatments have come a long way and that's what this (relay) is all about — breakthroughs."

Connie Woodruff, Health Initiative representative with the American Cancer Society, said about 800 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Franklin County each year.

"We are making a difference. I think people get a little upset because there isn't a cure for cancer," Woodruff said. "We need to keep education up, we have to keep research up, and we have to keep patient services up."

This year's relay raised about $25,000, Woodruff said.

Chris Reichelderfer of Chambersburg, Pa., laced up his sneakers to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He walked with a group from St. John's United Church of Christ of Chambersburg.

"It touches everybody's life," Reichelderfer said. "It's time to find a cure."

Reichelderfer's grandmother lost her battle with lymphoma, and his wife's aunt passed away after waging a battle with cervical cancer.

"It's my way of doing what I can to raise money to get support to try and beat this thing," he said.

Terra Shanholtz, 22, of Chambersburg, is in remission from Hodgkin's lymphoma after a July 2010 diagnosis.

Shanholtz and her friends and family formed the Hakuna Matata (meaning no worries, made famous in the movie "The Lion King") team to raise money to help others.

Wearing a bandanna on her head as her hair grows back from six months of intensive chemotherapy, Shanholtz said it means a lot to be a part of the relay.

"It means a lot to me that people were here for me," she said. "Their support means a lot to me, and I wanted to be here to raise money for the American Cancer Society to hopefully one day find a cure."

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For more information on the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or log on to www.cancer.org.

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