Lawry continues commitment to Relay For Life, receives recognition
By Scarlett Thompson
American Cancer Society
Published in a supplement to The Mena Star - May 24,2012
Regina Lawry of Arkansas started volunteering for the American Cancer Society at an early age, when her mother would go around their neighborhood collecting money for the organization. “She told me you just never know who it might help,” says Lawry.
Turns out, the money collected by Lawry and her mother may have helped their own family. Regina’s mother would eventually battle leukemia and her father faced colon cancer. Three of her sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. Her brother fought skin cancer. Regina is the only one of her immediate family to not get a diagnosis. “I feel like I live my life waiting for the other shoe to drop,” says Lawry, who manages a credit union in the town of Mena.
That’s why Lawry still volunteers for the American Cancer Society. She says she knows first-hand that research is critical, by again, watching her mother. “During her treatments she participated in a bone marrow study. At that time they told her it was very painful and would not help her but the research would help someone else down the line,” says Lawry. “Twenty years later a bone marrow transplant saved my sister Lenora’s life.”
The American Cancer Society helped fund the development of the bone marrow transplant. That procedure helped Lawry’s sister live 13 years more until the cancer returned. Lawry cared for Lenora during that time, which included helping her get to sessions of the American Cancer Society’s Look Good…Feel Better program. It helps women who are undergoing treatment deal with skin and hair changes, offering them free wigs and tips on how to apply makeup. “Lenora put her face on every morning before we left the house for her bone marrow treatments. She said she had to have a little dignity,” says Lawry.
Meantime, one of Lawry’s other sisters was battling breast cancer too. It was her sister Roberta who introduced Lawry to the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, an event where participants form teams to raise money for patient programs, research and much more. Survivors are celebrated, those lost to cancer are remembered and every one at the event gets a chance to fight back against the disease through Relay. “When I watched my four siblings walk around the track arm in arm during the Survivor’s Lap and then saw my mother’s name and my father’s name on luminary bags, I knew this was something I had to get involved in,” says Lawry.
Since then, Lawry has been involved in her local Relay For Life event, and representing her community as a Hero of Hope. It’s an opportunity for her to travel and share with others the impact of the American Cancer Society. “I know the American Cancer Society makes a difference. I’ve seen it in my own family,” says Lawry. “The American Cancer Society funded research that helped develop treatments for leukemia, Tamoxifen and many other drugs.”
Lawry says she’ll keep taking part in Relay, not only for the future but for someone in her past. “I show my mother’s luminary to my granddaughters and think how proud she would have been of us all and if only those ground breaking treatments for leukemia would have come just a few years earlier. I relay for my granddaughters so that if they ever get cancer there is a treatment to save their life,” says Lawry.