By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN To help with mounting medical costs for Betsy Elsen, a young woman with cancer, a benefit is set for Sunday, Sept. 27 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Delano, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event, Betsy’s Walk and Roll, promises to be a fun day of music, food, and fellowship, complete with a craft sale, 5k run, pork dinner, and more.
Betsy, 24, said she is looking forward to the opportunity to thank her family, friends, and the community of Delano for the support they have given her and her family since she was diagnosed in December 2008.
“Being ill, it is sometimes difficult to stay in touch with people or thank each person for their acts of kindness,” Betsy said. “I really hope I am able to communicate my gratitude to everyone at the benefit and express how much they mean to me.”
The benefit will begin with a silent auction at 9 a.m. At 10:30, people can register for the run and bike ride. The bike ride is at noon, and the 5k run starts at 12:30 p.m. A youth half-mile run is planned for 1:30 p.m.
The pork sandwich dinner goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. During that time, there will be inflatables for children, as well as a harvest and craft sale.
Prime Time DJ and the band UK-5 will play from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. At 2 p.m., there will be a live auction.
According to Betsy’s mother, Lori, Betsy currently has insurance coverage on the family’s policy, but she is quickly approaching the age cut-off.
“Hopefully, through this benefit, she can have dollars set aside, for when her insurance coverages expires and to cover the everyday expenses for her ongoing treatment for brain cancer,” Lori said.
Despite the challenges cancer brings, support from friends and family has helped Betsy and her family cope.
“People have done so much to uplift me and keep me positive,” Betsy said.
For example, a family friend brought Betsy, her mother, and sister to the American Idol concert September 1.
“Not only did we go to the concert, but we also had the opportunity to meet the entire top 10 backstage before the show,” Betsy said. “That was a complete surprise and so much fun! It’s an experience that I’ll always remember and am really thankful for.”
Betsy said she is also thankful for the cards of encouragement, entries on her CaringBridge web site, visits, meals, flowers, and prayers.
“I have many blessings and things to be thankful for today, and I try very hard to not take those things for granted,” Betsy said.
Before the cancer, Betsy had been working toward a social work graduate program at the University of St. Thomas and was doing an internship at Children’s Home Society and Family Services in the field of international adoption.
“I definitely feel down and discouraged at times about being sick and how it has affected my family, losing much of my independence, having to leave a grad school program that I loved, and the uncertainty of my prognosis,” Betsy said. “Still, I feel hopeful that I will be able to go back to my ‘normal’ life someday.”
The prognosis is yet unknown, Lori said, but the family remains hopeful that one day she will be cancer-free.
“Having cancer continues to be difficult, of course, but I know that someday I will be thankful for this journey,” Betsy said. “I do sense that I’ve gotten stronger, mentally and emotionally, as a result of dealing with this disease.”
Betsy suffers from debilitating headaches nearly every day from the brain tumors, Lori said. Because of damage to spinal cord nerves from the tumor and surgery to remove the tumor, she also has some difficulty with motor function.
“Things we take for granted are difficult for her,” Lori said. “Things like taking a walk, bowling with friends, going to the mall or driving are challenging, some are even impossible tasks. Not what a typical 24 year old experiences.”
If treatments are successful and Betsy is able to go back to a “normal” life someday, she said her outlook will have changed.
“I think the difference will be that I’ll have a deeper sense of appreciation for the unique gift of life that God has given me and a renewed commitment to serve Him with it,” Betsy said.
For general information or event participation in Betsy’s Walk and Roll benefit, contact Tim Litfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer for the event, contact Alex Bechtold at email@example.com.
To donate an item for the silent and/or live auction, contact Jennifer Weldon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about Betsy’s battle with cancer can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/betsyelsen or at www.betsyelsen.com.