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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Angels of Encouragement – Survivors group brings awareness and support to those touched by cancer

Angels of Encouragement – Survivors group brings awareness and support to those touched by cancer

The human body contains more than fifty trillion cells, which continually divide and keep us healthy. The other side of that coin is every person has cancer cells in their body.

That is a scary thought to say the least.

Most of the time the body’s defense system works to keep those cancerous cells from mutating and “provoking cancer.” The American Cancer Society estimates in 2018, there will be an estimated 1,735,350 new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States.

In Louisiana, ACS estimates there will be 25,080 new cases and 9,370 deaths this year alone.

It is easy to recognize the big “C” never sleeps. Therefore, Angels of Encouragement, a South Lafourche Relay for Life team whose members are all survivors, remains steadfast in their year round efforts to educate, support, and fundraise for those touched by the dreaded disease.

Polly Danos, Captain of the AOE team, is a nineteen-year survivor of stage four breast cancer. Polly had a mammogram at age 35 and showed no signs. Five years later, while chatting with her son, she crossed her arms over her chest, and when she did, she felt something. The small lump was no bigger than the size of a pea. She received her diagnosis on August 24, 1999.

When she asked the physician if he could tell how long she had cancer, he replied, “two or three years.” For that very reason, Polly stresses the crucial importance of self-exams and mammograms.

We asked what would be the first thing she would say to someone who receives a cancer diagnosis, Polly replied, “The very first thing I would say is, I understand and I know what you are going through because I have been there.”

Cancer has affected so many people she knows and loves that it has inspired her and her team to do all they can for as many people as they can. Fundraising is a big part of her team’s fight against cancer.

Polly stressed for those in need to reach out and utilize resources readily available. Angels of Encouragement has a support group, which meets every third Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Learning Center behind Lady of the Sea Hospital in Galliano. The group is open to anyone touched by cancer including survivors, nurses, and a social worker from Lady of the Sea, Misty Comeaux, who also found out two years ago she had cancer.

Misty was thankful she had been a part of the support group before her diagnosis. It gave her a better understanding of what was before her because she had already learned so much from the survivors there.

When speaking with Polly, she stated, “It remains a learning process for each of us, especially with advancements in medicine and ongoing research. Many treatments we have today did not exist when I received my diagnosis.”

The Angels of Encouragement team is asking the community to come by the Lady of the Sea Hospital lobby this Thursday, August 23 beginning at 7 a.m. for a bake sale fundraiser. Be sure and come by early because once the goodies are gone, they are gone! Money raised from the bake sale will go to support Camp Bluebird in Houma.

Every fall, Camp Bluebird offers a three-day, two-night camping trip for any adult men or women touched by cancer, whether a survivor or someone currently going through treatment. The camp allows survivors to relax, recharge, and reach out to one another.

This year’s camping trip will be Oct. 16, 17, and 18th. Proceeds from the bake sale will go towards the $65 camp fee for those unable to pay due to financial hardship. For more information, or to donate to the bake sale, contact Polly Danos at 985-258-6558 or Mary Messer at 985-632-4121.

A small percentage of proceeds go to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. But the rest of the money raised helps those in need who have cancer in South Lafourche for medications, gas cards, and rides to and from doctor appointments.

For those in need of assistance, call the American Cancer Society office in New Orleans at 1-800-227-2345. Someone will provide you with information on getting help with some of these issues.

“It is the people in the community who make Relay For Life what it is. Our community is caring and comes together for the common cause. Without the community, there would not be a South Lafourche Relay For Life. The Angels of Encouragement and RFL are thankful every day,” said Polly.

“Also, I’d like to stress that monies raised during local Relay For Life events, stays locally. Oftentimes people tend to donate through mail solicitations from the American Cancer Society. And while this is still good, I want to stress to people that those funds are going to the ACS nationwide and not necessarily staying here in our community. That’s why local Relay For Live events are so important,” said Polly.