Surviving and Giving Back part 1

“You just never know what some one else is going through.  Just because I may not look sick; never judge a book by its cover.  You never know what’s inside.”

I was speaking with Becky Downer, one of the local coordinators of Surviving and Giving Back, and her words though universal, ring especially true for cancer patients, and their families and loved ones.  She talked about the importance of staying connected, sharing information, and providing care and comfort.

“When you find some one else that is going through a battle, at any time, you can bounce off of each other, and lend a helping hand and prayers.”

Becky Downer, and Didi Simpson, another young local woman with cancer decided to walk the walk, of caring and compassion, while they continued fighting during their own battles.   

Becky continued.

“Everybody has someone that they know has been affected by cancer.  When I was diagnosed, May of 2017, thought it would never happen to me,  I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer; recently in December 2018 I had to have a double mastectomy. So, there are so many different types of treatment. “

From surgery, to radiation, to chemotherapy and others, patients’ needs for comfort and assistance vary as much as the treatments.

I asked Becky to tell us how Surviving and Giving Back, a non-profit organization is making a difference here in the Highlands.

“We do fundraisers for our local cancer patients, and we also help with our surrounding areas. It also benefits Bath County, you know West Virginia, Lewisburg, some of Roanoke. We delivered one hundred eight chemo care packages to the Blue Ridge Cancer Care Center in Allegheny.”

That last delivery took place just a few days after Becky had some reconstructive surgery.

And what are some of the items, that can begin to add up for patients during months, and often repeated courses of treatments?

“Lotions, you know when you’re having chemo, it dries out your skin, so you need sanitary lotions, hand sanitizers, soft lotions, soft soaps, chapsticks, fuzzy socks, warm blankets, depending on the season that you’re going through this phase, bandanas, wraps for your hair. Also when I was diagnosed, I was going to UVA three times a week. That’s not cheap, so any time that you could get a gas card to help offset the cost of your travel expenses, or lodging or just a meal in hand, it truly does help, so we just wanted to give back to our own community, that we know what we needed.”

These generous and devoted women, combined with the amazing setting of River Uplands Farm in Millboro offer the whole community a chance to combine giving back with kicking up your heels a little too.  In the second of this pair of stories we’ll hear about Boots and Bling, a fundraiser to be held June 15th which will make sure local cancer patients continue to know they are cared for, by survivors and their neighbors throughout the Allegheny Highlands.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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