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Church members celebrate life

October 22, 2012
Morning Journal News

NEWELL - Being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 was "no big deal" for Alice Evans, 80, of Newell. "I just took it in stride," she said. "Worrying only makes it worse."

For Mary Woods, 66, of Newell, the chemotherapy sessions after her mastectomy were the worst part. "You dread going in," she said.

For Ronda Lopata, 73, of Newell, a bout with breast cancer was also a test of faith. "The Lord was with me all through this," she said.

Article Photos

(Above) Members of Glendale Church of the Nazarene in Newell release pink balloons after morning worship on Sunday in support of breast cancer survivors and survivors of other types of cancer. (Below) Nevaeh Heath, 3, of Newell, receives a pink balloon from Michelle Ogden, 14, on Sunday outside Glendale Church of the Nazarene. (Photos by Stephen Huba)

The three woman were among a dozen cancer survivors who gathered at Glendale Church of the Nazarene in Newell on Sunday for a "Celebration of Life" in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Pink was the theme of the morning, including the decorations in the narthex and the pink cupcakes that people took as they left the morning worship service. Members also handed out pink carnations and pink balloons. Prior to the balloon launch into a blue autumn sky, the Rev. B. Scott Henry, wearing a pink tie, offered a prayer for those touched by cancer and for a cure.

Although she doesn't attend Glendale, Evans said she's heartened by the increasing attention being paid to breast cancer. "I think it's great. I think it's really showing a lot of support," she said. "By now, they should be getting enough money to cure this thing."

Evans got involved in breast cancer advocacy after her diagnosis in 2000. She had to have a mastectomy after discovering a lump in her breast.

That same year, she collected $3,000 in donations for breast cancer research. In 2006, Evans raised $3,000 again and was involved with the effort to string bras, tied together with safety pins, across Newell Bridge for breast cancer awareness.

Woods has borne her survivor status more quietly. "I don't think of myself as a cancer survivor. I just made it through it," she said.

Woods' cancer was detected by a doctor's physical examination after a mammogram came back normal. "Something didn't feel right, but I couldn't find a lump," she said.

Woods learned she had Stage 3 breast cancer on the left side, necessitating a mastectomy. In the years since then, she has chosen not to dwell on the details but simply to live her life.

Lopata has had a similar attitude since her mastectomy seven years ago. "I gave enough," she said. "I gave a breast."

Also in attendance on Sunday were cancer survivors Madison Capito, 19, of Newell, and Cliff Tiller, 65, of Newell Heights.

Capito, a 2012 graduate of American Spirit Academy, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes, three weeks before her 17th birthday.

Capito, 19, of Newell, gets emotional as she describes the six rounds of chemotherapy and 14 rounds of radiation treatment she endured in 2010 and 2011 at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Since February of that year, however, she has been in remission.

"I thank God for giving me this because I'm a totally different person now," said Capito, who is studying radiation technology at Kent State University-East Liverpool.

Tiller considers himself a miracle when he thinks back to his diagnosis with colon cancer in March. Tiller required surgery to remove a mass on his colon, but, since then, his health has been excellent.

"Only by the grace of God I went through it and am cured," he said. "It shed new light on my life. I am truly blessed."



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