By Paige Crone
“The Lord just put my hand there!” That’s how 26-year breast cancer survivor Mary Dewalt describes the moment she found the cancerous lump in her breast. Mary, a retired nurse, adds, “It wasn’t a very good Valentine’s Day that year. While others were getting bouquets and candy that day, my doctor was delivering my cancer diagnosis.” Then 45 yearsold, Mary had a husband and two young children, in addition to a demanding job, but with boundless spirit, she began chemotherapy and radiation immediately after receiving the news.
Just a few months after her last treatment, Mary called the American Cancer Society (ACS) and offered herself up as a ready, willing and enthusiastic volunteer. “I jumped in as a volunteer at the American Cancer Society more than twenty years ago and have been so rewarded by my work with them. I believe I’ve worked in every position imaginable as it relates to helping patients with a breast cancer diagnosis and have loved it.”
One of Mary’s favorite roles is volunteering in the Society’s Reach To Recovery program. In this program, breast cancer survivors are matched with those who have just received their own cancer diagnosis. “I’ve been told by patients I have served that this individual approach has been a true blessing in their lives. Sometimes they may need a hug, or a shoulder to cry on…other times patients need more practical help, but either way, it’s the best feeling in the world when you help someone. We are all sisters going through this together.”
In fact, Mary considers all her fellow ACS volunteers part of her family. “We love to dress alike in pink and black, so we look like a team!” Aside from helping patients, the team also plays a major role in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) Walk. Mary serves on the MSABC committee at-large, as well as on the Survivors Committee, helping to coordinate the survivors tent. “The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event is all about celebrating survivors…. [it] is a wonderful day that leaves everyone feeling grateful for survivorship and hopeful about new research and breakthroughs, but the goal is to raise money to fight breast cancer.”
Five years ago, Mary joined the Primax Pink Warriors, a local MSABC team that was the fourth-largest fundraising team in the country. Mary’s personal fundraising accomplishments helped the team achieve this honor, as she raised over $2,500, earning her the recognition as a “Pacesetter.”
In 2017, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk of Greater Charlotte raised over $495,000 for the American Cancer Society, helping to support breast cancer research, as well as increasing patient access to high-quality care by providing transportation to life-saving treatments and complimentary or significantly reduced lodging across the country.
As a grateful survivor, Mary’s commitment to the mission of the American Cancer Society is contagious. “As a thankful breast cancer survivor, you can believe I am going to help the American Cancer Society in every way I can to find a cure. Once people get involved, they won’t believe what a difference they are making in the lives of others and that is the greatest feeling of all,” says Mary who adds, “Come see me at the survivor’s tent this year!”
To get involved in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Greater Charlotte, visit this website. 2018 EVENT DETAILS: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2018 Registration: 8 a.m. | Walk: 10 a.m. ZMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway