The American Cancer Society’s Gala of Hope Honors One of Their Own and Her Triumphs
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Saturday, April 28, Saratoga’s Hall of Springs was the site of The American Cancer Society’s Annual Gala of Hope – during which a special guest receives the Beacon of Hope Award for their extraordinary effort and courage in leading the fight against this scourge – though there has been remarkable progress, this a disease that still affects too many families. This Gala reinforces the commitment of many to not rest, to never relax their resolve until cancer is eradicated.
The 2018 Gala of Hope has been dubbed the “One in a Million Gala” because of this year’s special Beacon of Hope Honoree – Ms. Jeanne Walsh – a long-time employee of the Capital Region’s American Cancer Society (ACS) offices, who faced down and beat cancer twice – including a very rare form of the disease.
The Gala of Hope event website tells Jeanne’s story best:
Many of you may know Jeanne Walsh from her 28 years of dedicated work at the American Cancer Society. What you may not know about our cancer fighting warrior, is that when she decided to retire from the organization, she began a personal fight against cancer.
This past March, Jeanne had two surgeries to remove a tumor sitting on her spine. While the surgeries provided Jeanne immediate relief from the crippling pain she had endured for months, she knew this was only the beginning of her journey.
A few days after her first surgery, Jeanne received a diagnosis of chordoma cancer. As she headed into her second surgery to remove the rest of her tumor, she sent a snapchat of herself donning cat ears, nose and whiskers. The photo caption: “Ready for Round 2!” It was only 6:22am, but Jeanne had her full groove on and the mental fortitude to let us know of her decision to donate her tumor and tissue to the Chordoma Foundation. “I am sending all my stuff to them. Maybe It can help someone else,” she said.
Chordoma is a rare type of cancer occurring in the bones of the skull and spine. How rare? Each year, there are only about 300 such diagnoses; you literally have to be one in a million to hear the words “you have chordoma”.
Jeanne received her treatment at Mass General Hospital in Boston, which meant she had to move there for multiple weeks. Lucky for Jeanne and her family, she was able to stay at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, free of charge, for her entire stay. She was given her own room with space for a caregiver, kitchen space, convince to the hospital and was surrounded by other survivors who were facing the same battle she was.
Jeanne has completed her treatment and is cancer free today. Although she has retired from the American Cancer Society, her personal battle has fueled her passion to support our mission in a whole new way. She knows firsthand the fear, unknown, and devastation felt when diagnosed with cancer and knows the difference the American Cancer Society can make in getting you through it all.
We always knew Jeanne was one in a million, and we are proud to honor her as the 2018 Beacon of Hope Honoree at the “One In A Million” Gala of Hope!
Source: ACS 2018 Gala Website
GALA OF HOPE GALLERY:
All photos: Cathy Duffy