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Cancer survivor leads Monessen fire company fundrasing campaign

December 26, 2011
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New Eagle resident Kathy Cameron, a breast-cancer survivor treated at Monongahela Valley Hospital, created a local fundraiser and plans to continue it annually.

Cameron encouraged the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department No. 1and its auxiliary to present cancer awareness events in October and donate the proceeds to support the hospital’s Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer Pavilion and Regional Cancer Center.

Representing the fire department and its auxiliary, Cameron and two friends, Auxiliary President Linda Palmer and Auxiliary Secretary Karen Marinos, presented $758 to radiation oncology department members.

Cameron learned she had breast cancer in 2009 and after three surgeries, still sees MVH staff for regular follow-ups.

“I was there every day for six weeks for radiation and we’re like a family now; they treat you like family,” Cameron said, getting emotional when she saw her radiation therapist Debbie Burkhardt at the check presentation. “I just love them; I love all of them. I feel like they saved my life.

“After all that I’d been through, I said, ‘We should do something for breast cancer awareness and let it be here (at the firemen’s club),'” she said.

But because so many auxiliary and volunteer fire department members and their families have been affected by cancer — Linda Palmer lost her husband John to lung cancer in 2011 — they broadened the event’s focus to general cancer awareness.

“The club is not a typical place to hold a cancer awareness event, but we had a nice turnout and support from everyone,” said Marinos. “We could not have done this without the help of the firemen; they did so much for us.”

At the event, the auxiliary sold pink merchandise including ribbons, fire hats, beads, cupcakes and cookies. The winner of the half-the-take tickets donated the money back to the fundraiser.

One of Cameron’s physicians, Dr. Andrew J. Zahalsky, the hospital’s director of medical oncology, provided the group with educational cancer information to share at the event.

“I am so impressed with the efforts of the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department No. 1 Auxiliary to raise funds and awareness for Monongahela Valley Hospital,” said Sara Schumacher, vice president of the Office of Fund Development. “This event is a true act of kindness and is an example of the genuine, caring people who reside in our community.”

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Article source: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_773460.html

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