AP NEWS

NACS shows ‘love and support’

May 5, 2019

Tammy Royer, co-chair of Northwest Allen County School’s Relay for Life, isn’t quite sure how long she’s been a cancer survivor.

It could be three years, although if you start counting from the day she was diagnosed, it would be four, Royer said Saturday afternoon as Relay participants strolled the track at Carroll Middle School while skies cleared up and the sun peeked out. Relay for Life is a national fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society.

Royer, who works at Carroll High School, volunteered at the first NACS’ Relay for Life in 2017, about a year after she was diagnosed with a rare breast cancer. Since then, the event has been so successful that it was designated “Rookie of the Year” by the American Cancer Society, something that makes Royer and her co-chair Kathy Dougald proud.

Last year, NACS’ Relay raised $75,000 for the cause and this year, Royer and Dougald believe receipts will match and possibly be even more.

This year there were more than 40 teams participating, five more than last year, Dougald said. Relay teams typically raise money all year and Saturday, some walkers had booths selling lollipops and other items to raise a little more for the cause.

Dougald, who works at NACS’ Perry Hill Elementary School, lost a sister and father to cancer, something that motivated her to get involved.

That was also the motivation for Grace Engquist, 14, a Carroll Middle School student and one of about 900 people to join the walk, which lasted into the night. Grace had a goal to make it around the quarter-mile track 15 times, which might not be difficult for someone on the middle school track team, but Engquist walked with crutches, her right foot encased in a bright pink cast.

“I’m fine,” she insisted as one passerby offered to walk a few rounds for her.

New to the group of walkers was Alison Bowersock, an instructional aide at Huntertown Elementary School, who last week underwent her first round of chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The mother of three will be back at work Monday and Royer wasn’t sure Saturday if Bowersock would feel well enough to walk.

But Bowersock was there with energy and a big grin on her face.

“All the love and support I have gotten,” Bowersock said of the NACS community. “that’s the part that is really hard to put in words.”

A couple of months ago, she found a very small lump, later revealed to be 8 millimeters in size, on one of her breasts.

“I was never a checker,” Bowersock said, “but I put lotion on every day.”

She was at the doctor’s office quickly and had surgery. The prognosis is good, she said. The cancer was in stage one and doctors say there’s a 98% cure rate, she said.

Her advice is to get mammograms and follow guidelines.

“You have to check,” she said.

jduffy@jg.net