Ohio Valley Unsung Heroes: Cancer survivor plans 5K run/walk

JEWETT — Cancer.

”It’s a crazy, mean word,” Wendy Ledger said.

In 2008, Ledger discovered just how mean the two-syllable term is.

During a self breast exam, the 32-year-old discovered a lump.

”I was concerned,” she recalled.

Already diagnosed with fybrocystic breast disease, a condition that involves dense breast tissue, Ledger underwent a mammogram.

Those results led to a biopsy and a partial masectomy, and later, after it was found cancer remained, a total masectomy, or, in medical terms, a bilateral one.

After her body healed, the Jewett-Scio High School graduate underwent 33 radiation treatments. Now, she’s cancer free after having surgery earlier this year to remove a melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.

”I’m doing well,” she said. ”I take a pill every day.”

When she had the surgery nearly a decade ago, it was a trying time. She missed work and her children were both young.

”They were age 3 and 6,” Ledger said of her children. ”My husband, Bob, was very supportive. He took me to all my treatments. I couldn’t have gotten through it without them, that’s for sure.”

Nor, could she have made it through without her friends and coworkers at Union Hospital in Dover, where she works as a registered nurse.

”They had a benefit for me,” Ledger recalled. ”That’s one of the biggest stresses, not being able to work.”

That got Ledger to thinking about how she could help those who’d been put in a similar situation.

”I was off work for 11 months,” she said. ”Friends and family had a benefit for me, so this annual event is a ‘pay-it-forward’-type event for me.”

Ledger is referring to Wendy’s 5K Walk/Run for Hope and Kids Fun Run. Since 2011, it’s been helping those who’ve been affected by breast cancer in the area of Harrison County.

”I give money back to local women who get diagnosed to help with their financial burden,” she explained.

This year’s event is set for Saturday, October 14 and steps off at 10 a.m. Pre-registration (through Oct. 1) is $20 and includes a T-shirt ($25 race day). The course is on the Conotton Creek Trail, a paved trail starting in front of the Jewett Volunteer Fire Department, which serves as the race hub as its usual location, the Jewett Wildcat Community Center, endured some water damage.

There are numerous age groups for men, women and youngsters, and awards will be presented. A quarter auction will take place following.

”We do the same trail every year,” Ledger said, noting the event has remained pretty much the same since it began.

Ledger admits she really knew nothing about putting on a race. But with the help of friend Trish Satterfield, the event took off.

Ledger estimates about 100-120 folks participate annually.

”I definitely couldn’t do it without my family and friends’ support, and the help of the sponsors,” she said. ”I’m very grateful for that.”

As is she of the runners and walkers.

”It just keeps getting bigger,” Ledger, also a proponent of the ‘Make HarCo (Harrison County) Pink’ initiative, said. ”It’s exciting.”

For more information about the event, contact Ledger at (740) 945-2003 or Satterfield at (740) 946-0153.

If you know of someone in sports in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com or via Twitter @RickThorp1