More than 1,500 walkers are expected to participate at The John Carroll School
Less than a year ago, Bel Air resident Michelle Cipollone was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Two weeks later, while still coming to grips with her diagnosis, she participated in the 4th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk on the recommendation of Ken Ferrara, vice president and executive director of The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation. During the program, one of the speakers asked participants to raise their hands if they are battling cancer. Michelle’s hand went up.
It was the first time she was public about her diagnosis. The support she received was overwhelming. She started getting phone calls and texts during the walk from friends who were there. She found sharing her cancer diagnosis was a positive, helpful experience.
Michelle received her cancer treatment at the Kaufman Cancer Center at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. She is grateful for the expert care she received in a setting close to home. And she is grateful for the people she has encountered on her cancer journey, particularly the doctors, nurses and nurse navigators she met through the Kaufman Cancer Center and Cancer LifeNet.
This year, to give back for all the care and support she and her family received, Michelle is a team captain for “Michelle’s Trailblazers” at the 5th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk on Saturday, May 12, at 8 a.m. at The John Carroll School, 703 E. Churchville Road in Bel Air.
More than 1,500 walkers are expected to participate. The funds raised support Cancer LifeNet, a free-of-charge nurse navigation and supportive care program offered to cancer patients and their loved ones in Harford and Cecil counties, regardless of where they receive their cancer treatment. Cancer LifeNet is based at the Kaufman Cancer Center.
Since the walk’s inception in 2014, more than $500,000 has been raised by friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors. This year the goal is to raise $150,000 for Cancer LifeNet. Cancer LifeNet is funded solely by philanthropic support. Last year, the program provided free-of-charge services to approximately 1,700 cancer patients and their family members.
The cost to register is $25 per person; children 12 and under are free of charge. Commemorative T-shirts will be awarded to those who fundraise $50 or more. Registration takes place online at uchfoundation.org and the morning of the walk. Donations may also be made online at uchfoundation.org. Day-of registration opens at 7:30 a.m., with the ceremonial program and walk beginning at 8 a.m.
The Presenting Sponsor of the 5th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk is Klein’s ShopRite.
The walk is organized by The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation and its Chesapeake Cancer Alliance volunteers. It is named after the late Amanda Hichkad, a Bel Air wife, mother of three boys and volunteer extraordinaire.
This annual event brings the community together to honor, celebrate and remember loved ones, friends and neighbors in the fight against cancer.
Friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors. Hope and healing close to home. Honoring and remembering loved ones in the fight against cancer. That is what the Celebration Walk is all about.
Less than three weeks after her diagnosis, Michelle began the first of six rounds of chemotherapy. She took advantage of the many resources offered by Cancer LifeNet.
Chemo 101 taught Michelle and her family what to expect during and after chemotherapy. She took yoga classes regularly. Healthy eating and cooking classes were favorites that she participated in regularly. The Image Center helped her deal with appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
She was aware of the cancer treatment services offered at the Kaufman Cancer Center, but as she explained, “You never pay attention until you need it. Everything I needed was right there.”
With family out of state, Cipollone knew she had a community close by to support her in this journey. “Nobody wants to hear the ‘c” word, cancer” Cipollone said. “It wasn’t the only ‘c’ word I experienced. I was also able to experience the ‘c’ word of community.”
Community is also important to Walter and Bonnie Naef.
Walter was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2014. He was given two to six months to live. Walter and his wife, Bonnie, who live in Bel Air, reached out to Cancer LifeNet after his diagnosis. The programs offered by Cancer LifeNet helped them both get to where they are today, four years after Walter’s diagnosis and two years after his treatments. He has now been diagnosed as NED–no evidence of disease.
“Cancer LifeNet is literally a net. This incredible program caught us in their net. They took care of our wounds. In the midst of our dread, there was light,” Bonnie explained.
The Naefs have been to all the Celebration Walks and have participated in a variety of ways. This year there’s a team named in honor of Walter called “Walk with Walter.”
“We totally support, love and respect the work being done at Cancer LifeNet,” said Bonnie. “We are all facing the same goal.”
Also attending the first four Celebration Walks is Robbie Svoboda, an active, longtime member of the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance. As the Kaufman Cancer Center was being built, she joined fellow Chesapeake Cancer Alliance members on tours and hoped that she would never have to use the services the center offers.
That changed in October 2017. Robbie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While she is still undergoing treatment, she has nothing but praise for the care she has received at the Kaufman Cancer Center.
“Everyone has been so nice, so concerned. They don’t just ask how you are. They ask specific questions,” Robbie explained. “They really care about you and take the time to get to know you.”
This year there’s a team participating in the walk named in her honor, “Team Robbie.” She and her friends will do anything to help the Kaufman Cancer Center and Cancer LifeNet.
For more information about the 5th Annual Amanda Hichkad CCA Celebration Walk, visit uchfoundation.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443-643-3460. For more information about Cancer LifeNet, visit umuch.org/cancer or call 866-393-4355.