Cancer survivors bowl for life

Brandie Richardson
Two time survivor Tolair Jones and Bruce Jones attended the Survivor Bowling Bash for the first time on March 9.

More than 20 cancer survivors and family members were in attendance at this years Survivors Bowling Bash, hosted by the Ascension chapter of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Attendees were treated to an evening of free bowling at Premier Lanes in Gonzales in their bowling exclusive VIP lounge, a personal buffet and access to games and the laser room.

ACS volunteer Kriste Haydel started the event three years ago, with the intention of providing a fun, carefree night for survivors.

"I do this because I lost a child to brain cancer and she wanted to always help survivors," Haydel said. "I think survivors need to have a fun night and forget about the cancer and forget about what they've gone through. I know what they went through and they need a break and to have a fun time."

Premier Bowling Director of Sales and Events Larry McDonald said the ACS is one of the many charity organizations that they help with. The bowling alley paired up with the ACS three years ago, and hopes to continue the tradition.

"We are very happy do this," McDonald said. "I like that we can offer something for the adults, particularly the ones that may not be as mobile as they sued to be and still want to do activities."

Two time cancer survivor Tolair Jones attended the annual event for the first time. Jones was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma 14 years ago and with breast cancer in 2015.

"I'm here with hopes to end cancer," the survivor said.

Jones continued by saying the American Cancer Society has helped her in many way, especially with providing resources and literature when she was diagnosed both times.

"The American Cancer Society helped when I was diagnosed the first time with transportation and supplements to help with my chemo," she said.

Seventy six year old Carmen Duplessis of Dutchtown, who is a two time survivor of breast and colon cancer, said she continues to come to the survivor bowling night to show she is still here after beating both cancers.

"I come to show I am surviving," she said. "I'm still here and will still try to bowl tonight."

Ascension sisters Cindy Edmonston and Stacey Montgomery, who both were diagnosed with breast cancer, were at the event showing their support once again, saying the ACS has helped them both tremendously.

"We are here to support the Relay for Life and because this is a fun event every year. I look forward to seeing the same people," Edmonston said.

"The American Cancer Society helps greatly by just having a group of people that have been through the same thing. It helps a lot, you just couldn't even imagine," Montgomery said. "It's a big support, you don't even think you need it but then when you have it's great."

All survivors said they are planning to attend Relay for Life on April 29 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Guest speakers for this year include WAFB's Donna Britt and St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc, among others. The event will include the survivor and caregiver lap, the Walk of Hope, along with plenty of food, music and performances from various schools and organizations such as the St. Amant Middle and Dutchtown High School Cheerleaders.

"We relay in honor and in memory. We make our contributions that way," Jones added.