BRITT | A standing ovation greeted Becky Haxton after she shared her years-long cancer journey with a packed gymnasium Friday, Jan. 25, during the West Hancock Coaches versus Cancer basketball games.
Haxton, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, was the guest speaker for the event that raised more than $6,000 for the American Cancer Society. The event also featured a silent auction, bake sale, 3-point pledge and other activities.
“This has been a very humbling experience for me,” she said. “To be on the other side, where people have helped me with donations, meals, cards and all the prayers is overwhelming and so appreciated.”
Haxton, a lifelong Hancock County resident, has participated in the local Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society fundraiser for research and programs, for the past 18 years.
After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she completed 15 radiation treatments, which shrunk a large lesion in her stomach, but she resumed treatment this fall after she developed neuropathy in her hands and feet.
“Just by listening to me and being here tonight, you all proved you want to beat cancer,” Haxton said, noting her grandsons Braydon and Logan Leerar had “No one fights alone” written on their basketball shoes.
Haxton and A.J. Taylor, a sports broadcaster with KIOW, spoke in between the West Hancock girls’ and boys’ basketball games against Forest City, where the home team wore pink or pink-accented uniforms.
Taylor spoke about Gary Gjerstad, who was widely known as a talented musician and color commentator. He died in September after a years’ long battle with cancer. He was 67.
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“It’s kind of hard to work at this table missing this guy,” he said. “He was so important. His wit was unreal. He was very, very special.”
Taylor talked about Gjerstad’s sense of humor and optimism.
“He faced life in a way that you had to smile,” he said. “No matter how many times he told me, ‘I have cancer’ ... he never ever quit smiling.”
“Sanger Strong” shirts, designed and sold to honor Coach Bob Sanger, raised more than $2,200 for the cause, while the silent auction garnered about $2,776, the 48-second pass-the-bucket challenge raised about $932 and nearly $70 was made from the honorarium basket.
West Hancock High School Principal Dan Peterson said the total didn’t include the 3-point pledge or the sale of additional “Sanger Strong” shirts.
“I’d say we’re $6,000 and counting,” he said.
Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the American Cancer Society.