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This fundraiser ended on 06/07/10

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My Cousin Sarah Campbell Benson has been battling cancer for 5 years. On June 6, I'm doing my first 100-mile bike ride in her honor. Join me in supporting Sarah by making a contribution & keeping her hope alive on her journey to beat cancer.

How the Sarah's Hope Fundraiser Began
As I look at turning 40 this year, I thought to myself, "I want to do something big before I hit the 'Big 4-0'."  So, I decided to do something I have wanted to do now for several years.  I signed up for a 100-mile ride around Lake Tahoe.

As I began thinking about training and the challenges I would have to prepare for, my thoughts turned to my Cousin Sarah Campbell Benson.  Sarah has been battling cancer over 5 years now.  In honor of her, I am riding to support her fight and hope to beat cancer.

This fundraiser is to help defer the medical costs associated with her fight against cancer.  If you can give 10 cents, $1, or more for every mile of my century ride, every little bit will be more than appreciated by Sarah.

I can't replace all the difficult time she has been through already, but I pray I can at least give her encouragement and continued hope.  Please join me in supporting her fight to beat cancer.

Here is Sarah’s story.

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A Little about Me
I am 41 yrs old. I am married to Rick Benson, a lieutenant/firefighter/paramedic.  We have no children.  I live on a small farm, with 2 horses, 2 dogs, and 1 cat.  I was a mental health therapist for at-risk youth before quitting work in '06 because of the cancer.

Cancer History
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2005. I had a lumpectomy, clear margins, and no lymph node involvement.  Three months later on a routine scan, I had evidence of metastasis to 2 areas in my bones.  I had these spots for 2 yrs, during which I only did natural and alternative treatments.  The cancer didn't grow much until the end of that time.  Then, I went downhill quickly. I had to have surgery on 12/24/07 to replace 2 1/2 vertebrae in my spine & debulk a tumor wrapped around the spine.  I was in the hospital for 23 days.  I had to have extensive rehab to be able to walk again & to take care of myself.  I began radiation to the spine & started Tamoxifen.  During this time, I also learned I had a small cancer spot on the liver.

I continued to focus on natural healthcare combined with traditional treatment and made very good progress.  Through 2008, most of the nerve damage healed and I got free of pain.  I also gained a lot of strength & flexibility back.  During this time, my oncologist told us the cancer was stable.  This wasn't true, however; he apparently wasn't looking at the right places.

Around the end of '08 & the start of '09, I began having pain in my lower back.  I also started having numbness & tingling in my legs and feet.  More tests revealed a fractured sacrum from cancer damage.  I went to a clinic in Atlanta for integrative care and began a low-dose chemo via Insulin Potentiated Therapy and immune therapies.  I stayed in Atlanta for 9 weeks.  During the first few weeks, I found out I had cancer in the cervical spine as well.  I started radiation to my lower & upper spine.  When I began treatment, I had been in a lot of pain.  After the treatments, I responded well.  During the summer & fall of '09, I continued to heal, get my strength back, have less pain, and less nerve symptoms.  I continued this integrative program and travelled to Atlanta every 6 weeks for more treatment.  A scan in August showed tremendous regression of the cancer and good healing of the bones.  I felt really good the last half of '09.

In January this year, I had another scan.  The scan revealed cancer growth.  I went back to Atlanta for 2 weeks this time.  Now we are in the midst of changing my program to get a better response.  As it stands now, I have cancer in a lumbar vertebra, a hip bone, a leg bone, and 2 spots on the liver.

The Roughest Parts
The roughest parts of my journey begin with being Stage 4 for 4 1/2 yrs now and fighting cancer continuously for almost 5 years!  I have been through two episodes of severe pain & disability.  Then in 2006, I was actually pronounced cancer-free; only to be told a week later that the radiologist had read someone else's scan in error & that I was never cancer free.  I was "fired" from my oncologist in June 2009 because he couldn't "deal with" the treatment I was getting in Atlanta (even though I had made fantastic progress, which was obvious just by the way I walked, which he chose to not even acknowledge).

The Good
I have learned so, so much and I'm still learning.  I've met so many wonderful people.  The support of my husband in particular has been tremendous, through this very long ordeal.  I am blessed to still be alive. I have rebounded from 2 extremely difficult times; each of those times I was in danger of being paralyzed, and during the spine vertebrae collapse, I had even lost my ability to walk & to care for myself (including the most basic of human needs!).

So, even though my situation is still precarious, there is so much I've overcome & this gives me hope.  It's hard to sustain hope for this long, but I do feel gratitude, peace, & hope.  I feel more of a purpose from this, and because I've been through so much, I feel my story can help others.  I want to help my fellow cancer journeyers more & more.

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As challenging as the ride will be for me, the challenges my cousin has endured emotionally, physically, mentally, and more are even greater.  Please join me in supporting Sarah in your prayers, financially, or both.

Cherish each moment you have with the ones you love and enjoy the ride today!  Keep hope alive.
 

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