Relay Champions is a special series The Yadkin Ripple is writing over the next month leading up to Yadkin Relay For Life’s event on May 10 at Starmount High School. The series features the stories of Relay For Life participants who have survived cancer, lost a loved one to cancer or those who have acted as caregivers for loved ones with cancer.
One Yadkin County mother and daughter know all too well what a lasting effect cancer can have on the bond between a mother and child.
Barbara Newman and Becky Wood feel -they were brought closer together through the disease.
Newman was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in August of 2010. Upon her diagnosis Wood immediately jumped into caregiver mode.
“My breast was kind of sore for about six or seven months,” Newman said. “I got a letter in the mail letting me know about a free mammogram and decided to go have one. When I went in they told me I would have to go take more tests. I went through some real extensive tests.”
They diagnosed Newman soon after and laid out a treatment plan for her. She would have to go through four chemotherapy sessions over a four-month period and she would need surgery to remover her left breast.
“They decided that I would just need to remove one breast, and so I had it done and I stayed in good spirits the whole time,” Newman said. “I was ready to get out of the hospital and go home immediately.”
Newman said that her surgery happened around the same time as the Pumpkin Festival and that she was determined to go to it even though she knew she shouldn’t medically.
“I had asked the doctor if I could come home by then,” Newman said. “He told me I could, but that I couldn’t go out.
“I didn’t listen, and they were pushing me through the festival in my wheelchair. We ran into my doctor at the festival. He just looked at me and said, ‘I assume you’re on your way home’ and I told him I was,” Newman said with a laugh.
Throughout her treatment Newman experienced many of the negative side effects of chemotherapy. She lost all of her signature bright, red hair. She said it took a long time to regrow, but now that it’s returned she is donning a grayish white hue instead of the red she’s accustomed to.
“I was a flaming red hea,d and now I’m a gray grandma,” Newman said with a laugh.
Despite it all she remained in good spirits and tried to lighten the mood for those around her by cracking jokes.
“I would always make a joke when I was going through chemo that I just wanted to go home and take my hair off and my boob out and just relax,” Newman said.
Wood said that it was quite a transition for her in the beginning. During the chemo treatments Newman would receive B12 shots directly into the bone. Wood said that she doesn’t think they were adequately prepared for the side effects of that until they were faced with them.
“My dad called me the day after that first shot, and I could hear mama screaming in the background,” Wood said. “I rushed over, and she was in so much pain she couldn’t do anything but cry out in pain.
“We called the doctor, and they said that all we could do was keep her warm. So we put her in a hot shower and kept warm blankets on her to keep her as comfortable as we could.”
Newman said it was a pain she could have never imagined was possible until she felt it.
“I hurt from my fingertips all the way down to my toes,” Newman said. “My hair even hurt. I just don’t know how children and little babies can go through this and survive it when I am in my 70s, and I could barely do it.”
Wood said that it was also a bit overwhelming for her to see her mother be able to take the disease so lightly at first.
“We went to visit one of the grandchildren at school one day, and when we got back in the car mom just ripped off her wig and threw it on the dash of the car and said ‘whoo, that feels better’. And that was just more than I could take at the time,” said Wood.
Newman and Wood said that the support and prayers of family and friends was instrumental in her ability to pull through. Newman said had it not been for the love and thoughts of her family she would have easily become depressed about her diagnosis and she doesn’t know if she would have made it through her treatment.
The mother and daughter also agree that their relationship had not been very strong prior to Newman’s diagnosis, but their time together during her treatment brought them back together.
On May 10 the mother and daughter team will walk the track at Starmount High School with their team Barbara’s Bake Shop/ Sonny’s Snow Cones in hopes that the money the county raises for cancer research will make a difference for their children and grandchildren.
“I want to find a cure for cancer,” Wood said. “I don’t want to have to go through this again. I think every woman 15 and up should have a chance to have a mammogram. I think if we offered a free mammogram every five years it would be a good start and we could finally stop breast cancer.”
The Yadkin County Relay For Life event will take place at Starmount High School football stadium on May 10 from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the following morning. See our Relay For Life preview story in this issue to learn more about the event.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.