Strength to keep fighting Local cancer survivor giving back through Cancer Connections Walk - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Strength to keep fighting Local cancer survivor giving back through Cancer Connections Walk

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Posted: Sunday, December 4, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 10:36 pm, Thu Dec 13, 2012.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Christine Gaudreau is a newlywed and a fifth-grade teacher who has reoccurring cancer in her liver, but through services offered by the Wellness Community she's staying positive and taking an active role in her healing.

"This is a pretty heavy load with a new spouse," Gaudreau said. "I'm just trying to be as optimistic as I can, and hopeful. I had great success the first time so there's no reason for me to think that we'll have any less success this time as well."

Gaudreau was first diagnosed in 2008 with a rare soft tissue cancer called a sarcoma. It was so rare many doctors in Arizona had never seen it before. She learned this type of cancer would not respond to chemo therapy or radiation, but because it was on her liver she could have a portion of her liver removed and allow it to grow back. Through the Wellness Community she was able to find a doctor in another state who could perform the treatment she needed.

"One of the things they always try to do is give you hope and advocate that patients take charge of their health," Gaudreau said. "They use a term called ‘patient active.' My involvement with the Wellness Community really helped me with that to really take charge. Through the Wellness Community I really got the courage to pursue an aggressive referral process so that I could go to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I was delighted that I had that perseverance and that treatment. I came back and continued to stay in the support group. It was just a very nurturing environment to be in."

Now the cancer is back, but Gaudreau has a network of support to help her get through it and she's doing all she can to help build that network for others.

She has become a volunteer for the Wellness Community and is serving on the planning committee for the Cancer Connections Walk and Hope Café Saturday at 360 E. Palm Lane in Phoenix.

The walk is the only walk in Arizona to support all types of cancer. Registration is free and will begin at noon. A program will begin at 12:45 p.m. and the walk will take off at 1:30 p.m. Along with the walk there will be music, an arts and crafts fair, and a Kidz Zone with activities for children.

Funds raised will support the free programs available at The Wellness Community.

"I think it's a great cause," Gaudreau said. "When you walk into the Wellness Community, it's an old house, and it just has this very warm, loving and peaceful feeling. You automatically come in and feel at home. It's a place where people have experienced all the emotions and the physical trauma you've gone through. It's very supportive, very giving, and very kind. The beauty of it is everybody can really relate and everybody is really empathetic to what you're going through and what you've experienced."

For more information about the walk, visit twccaz.org or call Darcy Ljunggren at (602) 712-1006, ext. 204.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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