"Hey! That's My Neighbor" October 2011 honoree is Carol Webb of Harrisville.
She is one of a handful of people who have found a way to battle cancer by raising money to fund cancer research on a grassroots level through the annual Buckeye Relay for Life, scheduled for June 1-2, 2012, and the recently added a 5-K walk and run in Yorkville, scheduled for March 17, 2012. These big, well-organized and fun-filled fund raising community level events and activities don't just happen by themselves-they are the end result of people giving their time, talents, energies and more-and not once, but many times. Webb is one of those very special people.
While you may not know her name, if you travel throughout southern Jefferson County during the spring and early summer, it is likely you have seen evidence of her fund raising effort's footprint by way of signs, banners, flyers, posters, plastic bottles with notes attached asking your loose change be deposited in the bottles for the benefit of funding cancer research.
Carol Webb proudly displays the many awards won by the Buckeye Relay for Life. Webb founded the event and works hard year-round find additional ways to fund cancer research.
Webb and her daughter, Nora, on a recent trip to Myrtle Beach. In 2001, Nora was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as GIST. Because a new drug developed by cancer research was available for her daughter, Webb began her crusade to do what she could to help raise money for cancer research.
Webb founded the annual Buckeye Relay for Life and continues to be the driving force behind the annual fund raising event. Monies raised through this effort benefit cancer research.
Founding and running this event for eight years now is her personal way of waging war on the disease her daughter has been fighting every minute of every day of her life at least since March 1991.
It is Carol's way, as a mother, to literally fight back against the devastating and rare form of cancer trying to steal her daughter's life.
Nora sees her mother as a sort of superwoman when it comes to her dedication and the results the annual relay and now the 5-K run-walk bring in for continuing research.
"We don't have any big sponsors, but we do have a lot of people who work very hard all year to make this a fun event for everyone, make it a fund raising success, and most importantly, make it an opportunity for everyone to share in the fight against cancer," said Webb.
"We think one of the most important parts of the event is when we recognize all patients touched by cancer," offered Webb candidly. "From the minute you are first told you have been diagnosed with cancer, you are a cancer survivor in our eyes and are certainly invited to take part in our special survivor activities at the Relay."
This year's event will be the 8th annual Relay for Life. It was moved last year from the stadium in Yorkville to the grounds of Buckeye Local High School. The event will be held this year on June 1-2 on the grounds of Buckeye Local High School.
Carol is not known as one to sit idly by when anything needs done that will make another person's day go more smoothly or end up being brighter.
She is always ready to share a smile and an encouraging word, but never a complaint reflecting the challenges she, her husband, Fred Webb, a retired welder from Consol who was disabled by arthritis, and their daughter, Nora, has faced since her initial cancer diagnosis which was made on March 21, 2001.
Though she lived outside the area much of the time since her graduation from college, she recently returned home and lives with her parents in their home on U.S. 250 near Harrisville.
Nora, now 35, is a graduate of Buckeye Local High School. Her sister, Dana, also a Buckeye local High School graduate, is now a resident of Chicago.
It was on that day in March 2001 that Carol and her husband learned their daughter, Nora, had been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer known as GIST: a type notorious for recurrent internal tumor growths. The full name of this particular cancer type is a "gastro-intestinal stromal tumor".
The particular type of GIST Nora was diagnosed with puts her into an extremely small collective of cancer patients known to have developed this type of cancer-less than 16 now.
From that day forward, the lives of each of the four was forever changed-different than it would have been without the devastating blow that struck at the heart of their close family by Nora's cancer diagnosis.
Nora had recently graduated from West Liberty State College with a degree in psychology. "She had hoped to put her education to good use helping others," shared Carol. "I honestly think she uses that knowledge to help us, her family and a few friends, as she finds ways to make it easier for each of us-and herself -to cope with it all."
But no one complains, or asks "Why?" What is asked are questions about what can be done to make positive differences and to help strengthen research efforts.
Nora's road through this process has had its ups and downs. But she knows her mother's focus is always on the positive. It is a reality about her mother's way of moving through each moment of daily life that she finds awe-inspiring.
"She has always been like that-she's amazing. I can't even find the words to express how very proud of her I am," shared Nora, noting her mother's personal strength in the face of this situation is founded solidly in a deep personal faith.
Carol Webb knows through prayer and continuing to raise funds for quality research through grassroots fund raising efforts such as the Buckeye Relay for Life and the 5-K, facts will eventually shift in favor of patients fighting this disease.
"I am a firm believer that God knows best. Everything that happens in my life is part of God's plan. On March 21, 2001, my faith was put to the test when a doctor told me that my youngest daughter had a very rare form of cancer known as GIST," she offered. "It was tested again when a scheduled seven hour surgery lasted only one hour and the doctor said they could not remove the tumors and had just closed the incision up."
"The doctor did tell us that if Nora had to have cancer this was the best kind to have and the best time to have it. He said this because a clinical trial for a new experimental oral drug had just opened and had shown to be effective in the treatment of GIST.
"This new drug, Gleevec, was developed by a researcher in Oregon and much of his research had been funded by an American Cancer Society grant," Webb recalled. "This did not mean much to me at the time but three years later when I learned that Relay For Life raised money for cancer research, I knew I had to get involved."
It was a life-changing decision which has touched, and continues to touch, thousands.
"With the help of my friends and fellow employees at Buckeye Local Schools, the Buckeye Relay For Life was born. Since then we have been joined by a number of other family and business teams that have helped the Buckeye Relay For Life raise over a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research and patient services. We are a small Relay but every team and every person on every team has their own special reason to Relay," Webb offered.
"With the help of many doctors and numerous experimental drugs, my daughter is still with us. However we are at the end of the road as far as any available treatment for Nora's cancer is concerned, so research is our best hope," she shared. "Over the past 10 years, God has made sure we were in the right place at the right time to meet the doctors on the cutting edge of GIST. I am sure he will not abandon us now. So I will continue to do my part and do what I can to make sure researchers have the resources they need to find a cure for all types of cancer and in my case especially GIST."
"As a footnote, I would like to add, for all those people who are dealing with cancer and all of the effects it has on your life, that though God provides, it is up to you to follow every available path," offered Webb. "Our path has led us to Columbus, Boston, North Carolina and the National Institute of Health. We know that a cure could be just around the next corner, so we keep our hopes high and our bags packed."
Tell us about your neighbor like Carol Webb-they may be changing the world and making it a better place for us all.