Cancer survivor raises funds toward cure

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, Charlene Rushing didn’t know anyone with the disease.

Uncertain of what to expect, Rushing reached out to volunteers of the American Cancer Society &045; and, in turn, made a request to God from her hospital bed. &uot;I said, ‘God, if I’ve got to have cancer, make something good come out of it,’ &uot; Rushing said.

First, however, Rushing had to do some recovery of her own, with the help of treatments and surgery. Knowing no one else to talk to who had been though the same experiences, Rushing reached out to Reach for Recovery. Through that Cancer Society program, volunteers who are breast cancer survivors provide information, reassurance and resources to others with the disease.

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Not only that, but the society program &uot;Look Good, Feel Better&uot; provided her with beauty tips, which gave Rushing a needed emotional boost. &uot;It was a wonderful, uplifting experience,&uot; she said.

Rushing went on to co-chair the first-ever Relay for Life fund-raiser in the Miss-Lou in 1996 &045; the local chapter’s largest annual fund-raiser &045; she helped raise almost $20,000.

Since then, Rushing has been a fixture at Cancer Society events, serving in several relays &045; this year, as publicity co-chairperson.

Other fund-raisers include casino bus trips throughout the year and, starting this March, a paintball tournament she’s also helping to organize. Also, she volunteers with the annual Cancer Awareness Forum and helped chair the &uot;Tell-A-Friend&uot; program, which encourages women to call five friends each to remind them to get mammograms.

&uot;One person’s cancer was found early because of that program,&uot; Rushing said, beaming. &uot;And finding it early makes all the difference.&uot;

What makes all this volunteering worthwhile? &uot;Realizing that every dollar raised is getting us closer to a cure, and that every person who’s involved in the Relay cares enough to get involved,&uot; Rushing said.

And seeing the crowds at Relay events gives her that uplifting feeling once again.

At the first Miss-Lou Relay, &uot;they had a hot air balloon there, and I looked down and saw all those people,&uot; Rushing said.

The feeling of unity and support, she said, overwhelmed her. Even now, after several relays, it still does.

To have such big turnouts, she said, &uot;means a lot. I stand there in awe.&uot;