Come Walk With Joleen
Long before her battle with breast cancer, Joleen Lamay was a huge proponent of Come Walk With Me.
Joleen has spent her entire career (more than 20 years) as a physical education teacher and coach at Sumner High School. She would encourage her students to be involved with Come Walk With Me by offering class credit if they participated.
“Although I no longer live in Sumner, I consider myself a local gal," Joleen says. "I have always loved the community message celebrated at Come Walk With Me (and) raising funds to help our community."
The event became much more personal when Joleen was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2015.
"You never think you have it," she explains. "I'll never forget the doctor’s words: ‘This is not the news we want to share.' She probably spoke for another 15 minutes, but I didn’t hear a word after that."
Fortunately, Joleen had an entire community behind her. Her students and colleagues formed a team in her honor and walked at Come Walk With Me the following October. Joleen credits the power of positive thinking and her huge support network with her recovery.
“I had 16 chemo appointments, and besides the first and last (with my mom), I had different people with me at each one," she remembers. "And for those who couldn’t be with me, my mom gave pink bands with my name on them. On bad days, people would send me fun photos of themselves wearing the bands."
After her last radiation appointment, Joleen took to Facebook and told her supporters that she was cancer-free and that they could finally get rid of those bands. She immediately received a barrage of photos of people destroying the bands. She laughs as she describes one photo of a pink band being flushed down the toilet.
“One of the most important parts of recovery is to let people help you,” Joleen says. “Cancer is a huge monster, and you’ll need people to lean on. They'll come out of the woodwork to help you.”
Joleen urges everyone not to let fear get in the way of their health.
“Be alert, be aware, go to the doctor and stay positive!” Joleen urges.