Bowling event focuses on cancer survivors

Lisa Yates
lyates@weeklycitizen.com

Cancer survivors were treated to a Survivor's Bowling Bash at Premier Lanes in Gonzales Thursday night.

"We were very pleased they let us sponsor and host this event," said Larry McDonald, sales manager at Premier Lanes Entertainment Center. "This time next year we'll have the movie theatre open for them."

McDonald said they just broke ground on the 11-screen theatre two weeks ago.

"Our target date is to be open by Easter weekend," he said.

Meanwhile, cancer survivors were given the full VIP treatment at Premier Lanes which included bowling in the VIP lounge, riding the bumper cars, playing in the laser maze and dining on a special buffet set up for the event.

Kim Myers, a volunteer with Relay For Life of Ascension, attended the event with her mother Linda Haydel, a colon cancer survivor.

"We're here to celebrate the survivors' victory," she said. "They've been through a lot. We appreciate all they have been through and we wanted to do this for them."

Haydel was diagnosed with colon cancer in August of 2007, had surgery and is cancer-free today.

"Every cancer survivor is a walking miracle," she said. "It's a blessing to be here."

Haydel said events such as this and Relay For Life are important to those battling cancer.

"The first time I walked the Survivors' Lap, I cried as the people clapped for us," she said. "Just the support of the people in the community meant so much. And, when I walked the Caregivers' Lap with my four daughters, it was a very emotional time."

Wendy Thomas, a young cancer survivor, said she was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 7.

"It was because of an accident," she said. "My brother hit me in the head with a bat and gave me a concussion. That's how they found the cancer."

Thomas, who is now 30, said the surgery was done at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"I was there for six weeks, having radiation twice a day," she said. "I've also had skin cancer and a stroke that was caused by the radiation treatments."

She said use of radiation has made a tremendous difference in treating her cancer, but has also lead to problems many years after treatment.

Thomas said some survivors like her are at higher risk for coronary artery disease, a disorder characterized by a premature scarring of the arteries, and problems with other body structures. She said it hasn't been easy battling cancer.

"I'm here to celebrate with the other survivors," she said. "It's important to look at how far we've come and look at all the battles we've won. We can all hold our heads up and say we've done it."