Empowering Our Team…

On February 17, 2018, Liz Fenton and her sons participated in the 2nd annual Kay Yow Cancer Fund Celebration Run/Walk. Wearing a pink cowboy hat that was given to all of the survivors in attendance, Liz ran the 4K route, doing her best to keep up with her sons.  Liz crossed the line with her sons by her side. They finished as they started, as a team.

The run was about a lot of things – least of which was running. It was about encouraging, empowering, and true to its name, celebrating. It was about the survivors – their personal battles and our collective fight against cancer. It was about the giving everyone involved the chance to be a part of a team – a winning team.

It is a team that Liz is familiar with – a team for which she herself has given much.

At age 41, Liz Fenton faced cancer—for the second time in her life.

Diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 28, she was now facing early stage triple positive breast cancer. Her mother had passed away three months earlier and her husband was a stem cell donor for his brother, who was also battling cancer. There was no immediate family in town and she was raising three young boys. Liz needed support – she needed a team.

Without orchestration, Liz’s team started to take shape. Women she knew from tennis, neighbors, other young mothers all coming to her side, giving strength for the day and hope for better days to come.

Maybe it was the team concept that led Kay Yow to start a cancer organization. She knew the value of team.  For Coach Yow team was also family.

Where Coach Yow was rich in team, she also realized many women did not have that community of support.

Her vision for the Fund was such that through events like the Celebration Run/Walk and Play4Kay nationwide, a team, a family has been created and is growing. With each event, each passing year, our team gets bigger, our hope gets louder.

As with all teams, there are roles to be played. Liz’s role has changed through the years. She has been the recipient of the gifts of hope and strength and she has also given those gifts to others. It is the consummate team metaphor.

In the years since her second diagnosis, Liz and her team continue to battle cancer.

She participates in an ongoing research study at Duke University. A study that is helping advance our understanding of cancer at a scientific level.

She has been a driving force beyond local Play4Kay events and participates in an annual fundraiser that unites her community in the fight against ALL cancers affecting women.

Looking ahead, we know that there is a big win coming for our team. When that day comes, we will have women like Liz to thank – empowered women that have found the strength to give us hope.


To donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.

Cancer Never Stood a Chance…

As easy as it is for those who have not experienced a cancer diagnosis first hand to immediate call to mind a level of fear, it may be equally difficult to imagine an immediate, personalized and realistic reaction.

What goes through a person’s mind when the doctor says, “it’s cancer…and there is a lot of it”?

Lori Wynn had two immediate thoughts, first “is this how people feel when they hear things like this?” followed by “my mom is going to kill me.”

On June 30, 2016, Lori Wynn was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. While there are some forms of cancer that no longer pose an imminent threat to health and happiness, stage 4 ovarian cancer is not one of them.

Lori met her diagnosis with the knowledge that just 8 years prior, her brother had died of cancer. Now this. Her mother would be devastated.

She did not ask her prognosis. She did not want to know. She wonders if this was because she was in denial. Perhaps, but that begs the question – how long can cancer be denied?

So far, not long enough.

She approached her diagnosis with the mentality of a coach. She is a coach at Geneva College in Pennsylvania. Cancer would be a challenge, with each day being an opportunity to win. She would walk through it and come out on the other side. She had a 9-hour surgery flanked by a total of 8 rounds of chemotherapy. She remembers the first round of chemo being “the worst thing I have ever done.” It was a complete shock – one that she says nothing can prepare you for. Yet, it is 2018 and Lori got through it. She is on the other side. She walked through. She is coaching again.

Having been through this battle, she readily admits that cancer presented a battle she was not prepared for – she did not pick the fight. The fight picked her.

Lori elected to take treatment in North Carolina, where her parents were living, appreciating that she needed care “only a mother could give.” When her team made the drive from Pennsylvania to encourage her, it was a total surprise and a shot in the arm.

Lori is typically a private person, but the incredible support of her team encouraged her to share her story, allowing others the opportunity to come alongside her amid the journey.  She says as a Christian, she always believed the passage in Romans that tells us that “ALL things work together for good for those who love God…”

Her journey with cancer gave her the unique opportunity to truly witness the coming together of all things good. She saw her players unite in their support of their coach. She saw the other coaches in her conference, coaches who are usually her opponent, coming together to lift her up in the fight against cancer. It became a journey that started with scary thoughts and ended with a deepened faith, deeper relationships and a spirit of unity.

One day we will beat cancer for the final time. The best time. Until then we are beating it one person, one fight at a time, knowing in the end cancer never stood a chance.


To donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.