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'You just have to keep going'

  • Donna Duvall of Marion (seated) is shown here with her gal pals, Vickie Frost from New Burnside and Darla Loftus from Carterville.

    Donna Duvall of Marion (seated) is shown here with her gal pals, Vickie Frost from New Burnside and Darla Loftus from Carterville.
    Rosslind Rice photos

  • Carl and Brenda Teaney of Du Quoin look at the camera while walking onto the field at Rent One Park Friday.

    Carl and Brenda Teaney of Du Quoin look at the camera while walking onto the field at Rent One Park Friday.
    Rosslind Rice photo

  • Charlene Hudson of Marion, business manager with the SIH Cancer Institute (left), visits with Prudy Rushing and Glenda McDaniel, both of Carbodale. Rushing and McDaniel each threw out a first pitch.

    Charlene Hudson of Marion, business manager with the SIH Cancer Institute (left), visits with Prudy Rushing and Glenda McDaniel, both of Carbodale. Rushing and McDaniel each threw out a first pitch.

  • Stephen Lohr of the Southern Illinois Miners prepares to launch a balloon in honor of a cancer survivor Friday.

    Stephen Lohr of the Southern Illinois Miners prepares to launch a balloon in honor of a cancer survivor Friday.
    Jonathan LeBlond photo

  • Glenda McDaniel of Carterville prepares to make her first pitch before Friday's SI Miners game. McDaniel is a cancer survivor.

    Glenda McDaniel of Carterville prepares to make her first pitch before Friday's SI Miners game. McDaniel is a cancer survivor.
    Jonathan LeBlond photo

  • Prudy Rushing of Carbondale, left, shows off her pitching form last Friday. Glenda McDaniel of Carterville prepares to make her first pitch before Friday's SI Miners game. Rushing and McDaniel are  cancer survivors.

    Prudy Rushing of Carbondale, left, shows off her pitching form last Friday. Glenda McDaniel of Carterville prepares to make her first pitch before Friday's SI Miners game. Rushing and McDaniel are cancer survivors.
    Jonathan LeBlond photos

 
BY JOHN HOMAN
Managing Editor
jhoman@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 6/19/2019 3:27 PM

MARION -- More than 200 cancer survivors walked onto the field at Rent One Park Friday evening and released lavender-colored balloons prior to the start of the game in a show of unity. The lavender or purple color is the universal color representing all forms of cancer.

The survivors are patients at the Southern Illinois Healthcare Cancer Institute. Friday's event was entitled, "Cancer is Personal."

Donna Duvall of Marion: was at the front of the line to enter the field Friday. She was seated in a wheelchair pushed by her two good friends -- Vickie Frost of New Burnside and Darla Loftus of Carterville.

Duvall said she is battling lung, liver, brain and bone cancer. Employed for 19 years as club manager with the Marion American Legion, her cancer was discovered after suffering a freak back injury on the job.

"I was diagnosed the first week of September last year, and lost my hair after the first round of radiation, but it's all grown back," she said as she ran her fingers over the top of her head.

Duvall said she is presently undergoing a second round of radiation in an effort to send her cancers into remission and also receives monthly chemotherapy treatments, as well as a bone infusion.

"Treatments have gone well so far," she said. "The nurses and doctors at the SIH Cancer Institute have been so nice to me. They make me feel like I'm part of their family."

Duvall said she and most other cancer patients do not seek sympathy, just acknowledgment of what they're battling.

"I don't want anybody feeling sorry for me. As long as I have my family and friends by my side, that's all that matters. It means the world to me."

Carl and Brenda Teaney of Du Quoin made the short trek to Marion to participate in the recognition ceremony. Carl is battling gall bladder cancer, which is in remission, and wife, Brenda, is recovering from a kidney mass that was removed last year.

"I was having some back problems and my chiropractor wanted me to have an MRI, which is when the mass was discovered," she said, leading to the removal of the organ.

Both are doing much better now.

"My mother also had to be placed in the nursing home last year, so we were glad to be rid of 2018," Brenda said.

Carl concurred.

"Gall bladder cancer is pretty rare, but like Brenda said, we're both doing pretty good right now. It's been over nine months since my last treatment."

Carl added that he and Brenda wanted to attend Friday's ceremony because the doctors and nurses at the cancer institute have been so good to both of them.

"We're here to support everybody," Brenda said. "You can't give up. You just have to keep going."

Prudy Rushing of Carbondale is a survivor of lung cancer.

"I've been cancer-free for the last year and a half," she said. "I was a patient at the center and am now a volunteer worker there at the front desk. Everybody at the institute is so supportive and friendly. You can tell they all care. When they know you by name ... that is important to a lot of people. I know it was very important to me."

Rushing was asked to throw out one of the first pitches.

"I was honored to do that," she said. "Being here tonight with these people is like getting together with my family."

Rushing said she will continue to have a CT scan done every three months and has regular visits with her physicians.

Rosslind Rice, spokeswoman for Southern Illinois Healthcare, said Friday's event "exceeded our expectations" with 235 survivors and family members attending.

"There were 150 free tickets for survivors and we sold another 85 for family and friends," Rice said. "We also had several surgeons, physicians, nurses and support staff from the cancer institute at the game. It was a great night."