FAIRBANKS, Alaska Every year on the first weekend of June, a crowd gathers at the West Valley track to support those who have lost loved ones to cancer or who are on the journey to hopeful remission. This Saturday will be the 2019 Relay for Life. This week we take a look at four people who have survived the disease. In the first installment, we take a look at Don Benjamin’s journey, and how he discovered he had cancer.
Don Benjamin was diagnosed with cancer as a result of a doctor’s suggestion at a routine physical exam.
Don Benjamin was diagnosed with cancer as a result of a doctor’s suggestion at a routine physical exam. “I had no symptoms, whatsoever. The doctor said, Don, it’s time for you to go in to have a colonoscopy, and I said OK, and that’s when we went in and found the cancer,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin traveled to Seattle for a second opinion, but was told that the red inflamed polyp in his colon was, indeed cancerous. After 16 days in the hospital due to complications, and six months of chemo therapy, Benjamin recalls what it felt like to be done with treatment.
“When I came home from the hospital, I got out on the deck and set there, and I found that I looked up at the trees and to me they were just beautiful,” Benjamin said.
While in the hospital, Benjamin’s wife picked up a flyer for Relay For Life. He, and his wife Patti have been participating in the annual fundraiser ever since.
“In 2002 we started doing Relay For Life. And I feel like one of the benefits is when you go there you see all the survivors. You realize that there is more than just you there. And I think it gives people hope to see the survivors there, and I know it did for me,” said Benjamin.
And for those who have not, yet completed their journey to remission, Benjamin said the first year is going to be the toughest, but it will get easier. Benjamin said, “It was a rough year, but I’m here, and I’m thankful.”
Four years after beating colon cancer, Benjamin was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After successful treatment, he is now cancer free.
Benjamin and his wife, Patti will be supporting the American Cancer Society at this year’s Relay For Life this Saturday, June 8th, 10am to Midnight at the West Valley High School track.