Making cancer freeze

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

 Caleb Davidson, Cancer Freeze organizer, was one of the first to hit the water during this year’s event. Photo by HKH Photography

A cancer diagnosis isn’t usually considered a blessing in disguise, but that’s just how Cancer Freeze recipient Joy Burgans describes it.

Burgans, a registered nurse and mother of three, was diagnosed last April with stage 3 breast cancer. Fellow nursing student and Florala resident Lori Petrey nominated Burgans to be this year’s Cancer Freeze recipient.

On Saturday, more than 30 skiers hit the frigid waters of Florala’s Lake Jackson to raise $7,500 for the Luverne woman and her family during the annual fundraiser. Participants had the opportunity to water ski, wakeboard, kneeboard or tube – all for a $20 minimum donation.

Organizer Caleb Davidson was one of the first to don skis for the worthwhile cause.

With a water temperature of 50 degrees and overcast skies, it was no wonder Davidson’s lips were blue when he emerged.

“Just so happens, blue is one of my favorite colors. It’s right up there with pink,” Davidson said as he donned a “Breast Cancer Awareness” toboggan to warm up.

“The support we’ve gotten from the community is overwhelming,” he said. “We can’t say, ‘thank you,’ enough to the people who made this event a success.”

The same could be said for Burgans, who described the day as an “awesome experience.”

“None of those people (who came Saturday) knew me,” she said. “Yet, they gave their time, money and support – not to mention getting in those cold waters – just for me.

“It’s a humbling experience,” she said. “I’ve told people that getting a cancer diagnosis has been a blessing, and I mean it.

“The spiritual experience and friendships are something I can’t describe,” she said. “From the get-go, I’ve said that God has given me the knowledge it would be OK. I knew it would get worse before it would get better.

“I also knew that once it was all said and done, it would be a great testimony when it was over,” she said. “He has supplied for my every need. He truly provides.”

Also attending this year’s Cancer Freeze was one of last year’s beneficiaries, Julie-Layton Bryant, and her parents, Stephanie and Brad.

“When I first met (Davidson, the organizer), he asked me what did I need this (event) to do for me,” Burgans said. “I said I needed it to be insurance money. I’ve been paying the COBRA price for (health) insurance, which is about $1,000 a month.”

“Stephanie and Brad (Bryan) said they were praying that we’d raise double what I needed,” she said. “And we did. See, prayers are answered.”

In April, Burgans hopes to undergo her last round of surgery before returning to work at Troy Regional Medical Center in May.