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Celebrating a victory over cancer

When Lori Walsh, a 49-year-old resident of Alta Sierra, talks about her victory over ovarian cancer diagnosed last December, one can perceive the strong emotions that flash across her radiant face and thoughtful eyes.

After four sessions of chemotherapy, Walsh is now back to her normal life with “no evidence of the disease,” which was luckily detected in its early stage, Walsh said.

On Sunday afternoon, Walsh was one of the few hundred cancer survivors, patients and their families who convened at Pioneer Park in Nevada City to enjoy an annual lunch organized by the Sierra Nevada Cancer Center, part of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.



It seemed more like a family reunion as former patients greeted each other, their doctors and nurses – all assembled to celebrate the gift of life.

“The one thing I came away with (surviving cancer) is the phrase, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,'” Walsh said. “There is so much more to life.”




With the look of a warrior who’s been through the fray, Walsh recounted the ordeal of the treatment – the sickness following chemotherapy, the nausea and a terrible pain in her bones.

“People would give me books, sudoku puzzles,” she said, with a smile, “but I was too sick to read.

“I benefited more by talking to people. The support of other cancer survivors brought me courage, taught me how to manage the kind of things that would happen to me,” Walsh said.

A Roman Catholic by faith, she prayed more, Walsh said.

“It’s a spiritual journey because you really are addressing the notion of death, so you communicate more with God,” she said.

The good news is more cancer patients can now walk the path of survival like Walsh, according to local doctors.

“Nowadays a majority of patients seen at the cancer center will be cured,” said Bill Newsom, medical director of the Sierra Nevada Cancer Center. “We have the best breast cancer survival statistics among Mercy hospitals in California and Arizona. We have enough capacity to take care of the patients.”

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is affiliated with Mercy Healthcare in Sacramento.

Relay for Life

Another event related to cancer that happened during the weekend was Relay for Life at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

The overnight event started Saturday at 10 a.m. and continued through Sunday until 10 a.m.

By Sunday morning, the event had raised $135,000, though the final amount was still being calculated, according to Mary Beckwith, volunteer event chair for the Nevada County Relay for Life.

This year, 58 teams of 15 to 20 people each participated in the event, said Matthew Foor, manager of community development for Relay for Life.

“Each team keeps at least one person walking during the 24 hours,” Foor said.

The money raised by Relay for Life will go to the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society funds cancer research, educates the public about cancer, offers free patient services and conducts advocacy programs to get legislators at the state and national level to pass bills to increase funds for cancer research and patient support, Foor said.

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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