June 1, 2007

After battling breast cancer, Cindy Scherer is named Delano's 2007 Relay for Life Honorary Chair

‘The community of Delano completely took care of our family’

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

When loved ones get sick with something like the flu, it can be tough for a family to rearrange their schedule for a day and take care of their loved one, but imagine a loved one getting seriously ill with breast cancer, and rearranging schedules and lives to fight off the illness, and stay together.

It is exactly what Cindy Scherer, her husband Ben, and their two young children, Wally and Clete, did these past few years.

“We have learned a lot from it,” Cindy Scherer said.

To honor her battle with cancer, and the support she has given to the Relay for Life committee, Scherer has been honored as this year’s Honorary Chair for the Relay for Life festivities.

Scherer will be speaking at the Relay for Life, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3 and 4, at the Central Park in Delano.

“I am going to speak about awareness, and it also gives me the opportunity to thank everyone,” Scherer said.

To go along with being honorary chair, Scherer is also a captain of a relay team called the Cinderella Striders. The Striders are in their third year of existence, and this will be Scherer’s second year as captain.

“We have 15 members right now, but some haven’t signed up yet,” Scherer said.

The Striders were originally created to support Scherer during the summer of 2005, just months after she discovered she had breast cancer.

“My friends and neighbors were on the team,” Scherer said.

Scherer attended the relay in 2005, not knowing exactly what to expect. The night turned into one she would never forget, with her friends surrounding her, as well as breast cancer survivors, introducing themselves and talking with her.

“There was an energy in the air that I just can’t put into words,” Scherer said.

Scherer has been through a tough experience since being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2005, especially because it developed so quickly.

“I didn’t think it was anything at all,” Scherer said.

Scherer initially thought her breast was sore from resting on her 18-month-old son Clete’s crib, but to be on the safe side, she went to get a mammogram. To her surprise, they found a six centimeter malignant tumor in her breast, just six months after her last annual exam.

“My first thought was ‘I don’t want my kids to have a sick mom,’” Scherer said.

Following the diagnosis, she went to numerous doctors and specialists to find out what to do, as well as to get additional tests.

The prognosis for Scherer was a difficult one. She found out that the cancer had spread from her breast to the lymph nodes under her armpit, and because of this, more dramatic steps needed to be taken to stop the cancer.

That meant Scherer had to go through multiple surgeries to remove the cancer, and had to have a bilateral mastectomy, a complete hysterectomy, as well as having lymph nodes removed.

“Initially, I was mad because it changed our family plans,” Scherer said.

To go along with the surgeries, Scherer also went through four months of chemotherapy, and 66 radiation treatments.

The chemotherapy lasted four months, with eight treatments in total, every other week.

“They put a liquid right into your veins to kill all of your cells, and the healthy ones grow back,” Scherer said.

The chemotherapy sessions were tough for Scherer because of the side affects she suffered during the four month treatments, including fatigue, hair loss, loss of appetite, and nausea.

“It is such a physical fight going through chemo,” Scherer said.

Scherer finished chemo, and a couple of weeks later, started right into the radiation treatments.

The radiation treatments were every day, Monday through Friday, and consisted of a total of 66 treatments. The treatment is much like getting an X-ray, with high level ultraviolet rays.

“They just zap you,” Scherer said.

Scherer had her last operation, a complete hysterectomy, Jan. 24 of this year. She now has to have physical exams every three months, which have looked good, as well as get a PET scan once a year to check for cancer cells, which again yielded good results this year.

“It is the newest scan, and they basically shoot sugar into you, and the most active cells, which are cancer, go to the sugar,” Scherer said.

Scherer will have to go through these checkups for 10 years, which is five more than normal breast cancer survivors, because of the spread of cancer to her lymph nodes.

During Scherer’s tougher moments in her life, she looked to her husband, children, family, friends, and the community as a whole for support, and they came through in a big way.

“The community of Delano completely took care of our family,” Scherer said.

During her time of need, her husband, Ben, took care of her and the children, as well as continuing to operate his business, Scherer Plumbing and Heating. Her friends secured cleaning services, took care of daycare, and even set up a meal program for citizens to bring meals for the family.

“For four months, they brought us meals, and there was a waiting list to get on it,” Scherer said.

“Cindy is a wonderful lady,” said Jeanie Pilarski, who is the Relay’s mission chair/publicity chairperson. “People know her in our community. They can relate to someone young. Here’s a young parent battling cancer, and you can relate to that.

“She is very spiritual, and a very strong woman. I think she’s a good person to be our honorary chair, and someone you can look up to.”

Scherer is still living with the admiration and gratefulness of her family and the community which helped her so much, and now she is looking at helping other people with breast cancer and prevention, through Relay for Life.

Relay for life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and is designed to honor those who have lost the battle with cancer, who have survived, and to raise funds to find a cure for the disease.

“They are making great strides in research,” Scherer said.

During the festivities, teams made up of cancer patients, survivors, and supporters walk and/or run laps around the track, with the goal to have at least one team member walking at all times.

“There is a pork chop dinner, and games for the kids like the kid’s fishing pond, the lollipop game, and a sandbox to make sandcastles,” Scherer said.

Before last year’s event, Scherer’s team, Cinderella Striders, raised more than $15,000 for the American Cancer Society. The Striders put together a fundraiser called Rock the Cure, and got the band GB Leighton to play. Along with several very generous donations from local businesses, the event did very well.

“We finished third in the state,” Scherer said.

This year, the Striders are hosting another event, at the Delano American Legion, called Second Chance Prom, Tuesday, June 15.

The event is again designed to raise money for the American Cancer Society, and will consist of an ‘80s style prom, with the DJ Chopper, free appetizers and beer, along with McDonald’s Photography Studio of Delano taking pictures.

“It’s a flashback to the ‘80s, but we get to do it the way you wanted to do it,” Scherer said.

For the total prom experience, businesses such as Delano Floral, Everydays, New Attitudes Salon, and Uptown Blu Salonspa and Tanning, will be donating a percentage of their proceeds to the Cinderella Striders.

Breast Cancer is a serious disease, but as Ben and Cindy Scherer can attest, with the generosity people can show, to not only their family and friends, but to events such as the Relay for Life, even cancer can be beaten.

“I never blamed God for giving it to me, because He put everyone here to help me,” Scherer said.

To purchase Second Chance Prom tickets, call Cindy Scherer at (763) 972-8137 or MetroWest Title at (763) 972-4520.

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