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Cancer survivors organize pro-life Rock Walk

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November 21, 2011

By Eileen Connelly, OSU

ST. MARGARET MARY DEANERY — In addition to their strong Catholic faith, Begona Campos-Naciff, Candy Moore and Karen Spade also have something else very significant in common. The women, all members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Dry Ridge, are breast cancer survivors.

 

Cancer survivors Karen Spade, Candy Moore and Begona Campos-Naciff pose before the walk. (CT/COLLEEN KELLEY)

Their faith, as well as the support of family members, friends and fellow parishioners, aided the women in coping with the devastating diagnosis and often challenging treatment that followed. Determined to help others battling cancer, the women joined forces to organize the first annual pro-life Rock Walk — the Way to the Cure, held Sept. 24 at Heritage Park in Colerain Township. The 3.5-mile walk was geared toward providing an alternative to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure because of that event’s ties to Planned Parenthood and support for embryonic stem cell research.

 

Campos-Naciff, diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer after a lumpectomy in September 2009, said her first response after receiving the news was to “go to my statue of Mary and cry there. I also prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance.”

 

When she broke the news to her husband and their two teenage children, “I told them that we should not be upset, that this was a great gift from God to increase our faith and our love for each other, that this was not going to be easy, but God would give us the strength. It was a special invitation from Jesus to share a little bit of His cross.”

 

As she prayed during chemotherapy, her thoughts turned to other women facing cancer and she was compelled to do something to help them. “I asked God how He wanted me to do it and when,” she said.

 

The answer came when several friends announced their plans to participate as a team in another local walk for both her and Moore, diagnosed in August 2010. While grateful for their support, Campos-Naciff urged them not to participate. “I told them I love life and I believe in protecting it from beginning to end, and this is not the way to do it.”

 

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer and Father Timothy Kallaher, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Dry Ridge, cut the ribbon before the walk.

With the support of Father Timothy Kallaher, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, she, Moore and Spade, now a seven-year breast cancer survivor, along with other friends, came together to brainstorm alternatives. The result was the Rock Walk, so named, said Campos-Naciff, because “Jesus is the rock who saves us,” and “we are all human like Peter, and we are scared and anxious when we take our eyes from the Lord.”

 

“It was very, very meaningful for me to be part of this,” said Moore, married for 32 years and the mother of four sons. “When I was diagnosed, my main objective was to still be here for my kids 20 or 30 years from now. That’s what got me through, along with a lot of praying. Every day I could get up and move around, I thanked God for getting me through another day.”

 

Spade, who was avid runner before her diagnosis and marked her five-year anniversary as a cancer survivor in 2009 by participating in a 26-mile marathon, was also eager to support the event. “What appealed to me is that it was pro-life,” she said. “People need to be able to support a cause like this and ensure it adheres to our Catholic values.”

 

As with her friends, her faith “was absolutely everything to me” during her treatment and recovery. “On my lowest days, even when I was deathly ill, so sick I couldn’t walk or talk on the phone, I could feel the Holy Spirit with me. It was overpowering. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, but wouldn’t trade the experience for anything as far as the spiritual aspect,” said Spade, married for 24 years and the mother of two daughters.

 

A sunny early fall day set the scene for the Rock Walk as some 200 people gathered at Heritage Park. After a flag raising ceremony by Boy Scout Troop 641, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, offered his blessing on the event and led those gathered in prayer. The walk raised approximately $4,500 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, according to Campos-Naciff.

 

“It was such a beautiful event and God’s abundant love was so evident,” she said. “It was really a testimony to the faith of many.”

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