Woman’s cancer battle goes nationwide
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE ” The all-night the Relay for Life on Aug. 10 at the Brush Creek Pavilion is designed to bring together those who have been touched by cancer, celebrate those who have survived cancer, and help prevent the disease from striking others.
Eagle resident Judy Clock says the symbolism goes far deeper, and holds a very personal meaning for her and others involved in the event.
“The relay itself is just like the experience of having cancer,” Clock says. “You get tired, but you keep walking. Then the dawn comes and you have hope.”
Clock was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, when she found a quarter-sized lump in her breast. After a mastectomy, she hoped she would remain cancer free. However, in 1992, a mammogram picked up another troublesome lump. A second mastectomy followed.
Nearly 15 years later, Clock is cancer free. But she knows others who were not so lucky.
Friends and acquaintances in this valley have died of cancer. Clock has also lost several family members to the disease. Two of her sisters died of breast cancer, another died of abdominal cancer, and her parents both died of cancer.
Two of her other siblings ” a sister with uterine cancer and a brother with larynx cancer ” survived. She also has several nieces who have had breast cancer, one who died.
“The list goes on,” she says sadly.
All the time she was battling her own cancer and watching her relatives deal with the disease, Clock worked as a teacher at Eagle Valley High School, where she taught consumer and family sciences.
“I think you just get numb,” says Clock, recalling the awful sequence of events. “You get overwhelmed.”
When she retired in 2005, she was finally cancer free.
Clock learned early on the need for prevention. she said.
After her first sister died in 1992 ” within four days of learning that her cancer had spread to her brain and liver ” Clock and her remaining siblings made a pact to have themselves checked out. That pact may have saved Clock’s life, but other’s as well.
“It’s very important to take care of yourself and get checked out,” she says.
It’s a belief so strong, that she has immersed herself in promoting prevention ” from the Eagle River Valley to the nation’s capitol.
This is the third year in a row that Clock has helped with the Relay for Life; and her second term as team chair. The first year, the event raised $15,000 to help fight cancer. Last year, it raised $82,000. An astonishing 1,200 names were read during the Luminary Ceremony.
“It just tells you how caring this community is,” Clock says. “It also tells you how many people are touched by cancer.”
Her fight has taken her farther afield. In September of 2006, Clock, as a district representative for the Colorado Chapter of the American Cancer Society, went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress against cutting funds for cancer research and prevention.
A lot of the gains made in recent years have been because of early detection, she says.
She asked senators and congressmen to sign promissory letters vowing to support a national goal to eliminate the suffering and death caused by cancer by 2015.
She was joined by advocates from around the country bearing banners with the signatures of thousands supporting the goal. The banners, including the one Clock brought from Eagle County, were assembled into a maze near the Capitol Building ” a “Wall of Hope.”
This past spring, she joined other advocates at the Colorado State Capitol on Lobby Day to ask local representatives to make a similar pledge.
“We may not cure cancer by 2015. But if we can find a treatment for it and early detection for it, when you do get cancer it isn’t a death sentence,” she says.