Big-rig driver heads convoy to beat cancer

first_imgCASTAIC — Becky Cordova’s never been the princess type. A truck driver for the past 18 years, Cordova is more accustomed to engines and over-size tires than tiaras and flowers. But after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she is willing to do and try almost anything. “When you deal with something like cancer, you enjoy every day like it’s your last,” Cordova said. “I am having fun with it.” Cordova will be one of three princesses crowned today at Circle of Hope’s third annual Walk for Hope fundraising event at Castaic Lake. Proceeds of the daylong event, starting at 8 a.m., will go to the nonprofit, which provides financial and emotional support for breast cancer patients. But Cordova’s crown carries with it more weight than most pageant headpieces. And she decided that if she didn’t get her trucker buddies to come along for her moment in the sun, they might never believe her. “I have over 50 trucks coming with me,” Cordova said. Sporting pink-ribbon decals, the big rigs will make their way from Palmdale to Castaic Lake at the break of dawn today. Cordova, who got each of the truckers to donate $100, thinks the Convoy for Hope will become a tradition at the Circle of Hope springtime fundraiser. “These men were so eager to show their support. Many of them have dealt with this disease with their sisters, mother or wives.” In addition to champion princesses and big rigs, Colleen Schaffer, founder of the Circle of Hope, said at least 65 pink-ribbon-wearing dogs will also be joining the day’s festivities, making this year the most successful year for the organization. “We have more than 500 people registered this year,” Schaffer said. “Last year, we had 310.” Schaffer, who has battled metastatic cancer for five years, said the increased support couldn’t have come at a better time. As technological advances detect breast cancer earlier and more effectively, more and more women are being diagnosed and spending longer periods of time on costly treatments and medication. Cancer experts say a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes. Schaffer said what most people don’t understand is how expensive it is for these women to beat their disease. “People will spend anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000,” Schaffer said. “Even if you are paying 10 (percent) or 20 percent of those prices, that adds up really quick and you still have insurance premiums and deductibles.” But beyond doling out financial relief for breast cancer patients, Schaffer and her helpers at Circle of Hope also provide support and comfort for women. Schaffer said crowning princesses was simply another way to have women understand that breast cancer is beatable, and they should be praised for their strength and resiliency. “We have a princess of hope, of determination and of perseverance,” Schaffer said. “Most breast cancer patients, the last thing they want to hear about is a beauty queen. But this is about the beauty within that these three women are embodying while they are fighting their disease.” Carolynn Martin, mother of two, was diagnosed with breast cancer in both her breasts in November. “It was completely overwhelming,” Martin said. “When you hear the word, cancer, you instantly think of death.” Martin, who will be joined by most of her family during the 5 kilometer walk, said being crowned princess of determination fits her well — beating the disease is her only option. “My job is to be there for my kids,” said Martin, who has a 10-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. “I want to be there to answer their questions, that is my job.” For Schaffer, being able to help women such as Martin is what the event is all about. “Cancer doesn’t distinguish if you have money or not,” Schaffer said. “Many people think that they have enough financial support and normally underestimate how much the expense is going to be. That is where we come in; if you can’t walk, we’ll carry you … you can lean on us. — Connie Llanos (661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more