Ashworth: Laughter best medicine [with gallery]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

If anybody had a story that could have moved people to tears at the opening ceremony of Covington County’s 2014 Relay for Life, by all rights, Patty Ashworth would own it.

“I am a breast cancer survivor,” she said. “And I lost my mom and two sisters to cancer.”

But Ashworth didn’t go there.

“More than one million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone this year,” she said. “But the number of people who will survive is so much better. People have a better chance because of the efforts of everyone here tonight.

“I got a chance to avoid chemo and radiation because of the research you funded,” she said. “Because of genetic testing, I didn’t have to go there.

“I am just one survivor, but so many of you have given your time, talents and money to make this happen,” she said. “I am so proud of you today.”

Ashworth said she has chosen to find laughter every day.

“One of my favorite quotes is from e.e. cummings,” she said. “He said the most wasted of all days is one without laughter. I try to find something to laugh about every day.
“I’m thankful that we can laugh, and I’m thankful to all of you for being here and supporting this effort,” she said.

Cancer survivors introduced themselves, each adding how long he or she has survived. And then they took the survivors’ lap, with the crowd clapping and cheering for them as they made the loop. Among them was Susan Byrd, in one of the night’s most interesting super hero costumes.

Sporting a pink cape, a pink mask and a pink shield, she said she chose her costume for a reason.

“You know the saying, ‘Fight like a girl,’ ” she said. “I just got everything I could find that was pink.”

But she added a little something extra. Both her shield and cape were covered with names.

On the shield, she explained, were the names of friends and family members who have had cancer. On her cape were the names of people she’s never met.

“They are friends or family members of people I know who’ve had cancer,” she explained. “I hope to meet them.”

Byrd is an eight-year survivor of leukemia.

Another highlight was the presence of Andalusia High School senior Megan Kelley, who on Monday received her final chemo treatment for Ewing’s Sarcoma. The AHS team decorated their tent with signs that said, “Megan is our Wonder Woman.”

The survivors also were treated to a dinner sponsored by Covington Electric Cooperative.

Sixteen teams raised money for the county’s $100,000 goal this year.