Nancy Patridge and Cow Man in Charlotte, NC. Courtesy photo
By NANCY PARTRIDGE
I had to look twice, actually three times, at the black-and-white lawn ornament the first time I walked past it.
It stands out among the plethora of eclectic lawn ornaments dotting the yards in White Rock. There are big and small pink flamencos, white swans, Kokopellis, lizards, pinwheels, minions, gnomes, pots pouring glass stones, stone benches and all manner of birdbaths. There are turkeys, bears, deer, cattle and ram skulls, metal cats and ceramic dogs and bike chain rattlesnakes.
But this one black-and-white ornament, on Aragon, has my attention. I think it’s a Holstein cow. The tiny black hooves are not that apparent where it stands on the lawn under a tree.
At every breast cancer endurance walk there are countless people offering their support at cheering stations dotting the route. Family and friends wave signs, blast air horns, crank music, and hand out candy or frozen fun pops.
Among the cheering people, one man stands alone in his steadfast support for breast cancer walkers.
Dressed as a black-and-white Holstein cow with full pink udders and black horns, he yells and cheers and rings a cow bell at the side of the walking route.
No matter where I have walked, he has been there. Colorado; Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C., Boston, Charlotte, NC; Santa Barbara, Calif.; San Francisco- Cow Man has been there.
No, he is not a Chick-fil-A promo guy.
Cow Man used to go to the walks to cheer for his wife, who was a survivor and a walker. A few years ago that changed, but still he continued turning out at the walks to cheer on the thousands of other walkers.
He believes that one day there will be a cure, and he does what he can to support others who hoof it for the cause.
A 60-mile walk is nothing compared to a cancer battle. Emotional support is vital for cancer patients.
The cancer journey can feel very lonely. Patients shouldn’t feel the need to try to deal with everything on their own.
Almost everyone who is going through or has been through cancer can benefit from some type of support. Patients need people to turn to for strength and comfort.
Support can come in many forms: family, friends, cancer support groups, religious or spiritual groups, online support communities, or one-on-one counselors.
Some people feel safe in peer-support groups or education groups. Others would rather talk in an informal setting, such as church. Others may feel more at ease talking one-on-one with a trusted friend or counselor.
The American Cancer Society has a support line (1-800-227-2345) which provides information on peer groups and other support resources.
The Los Alamos Council on Cancer (losalamoscounciloncancer.org/) offers local support services as well. They operate the Cancer Corner in Los Alamos Medical Center, as well as support groups, resource books, educational seminars, emotional support through patient-to-patient mentoring, and the Look Good Feel Better program.
There are five weeks until the 3-day, 60-mile walk in Seattle. Cow Man will be there offering support for the walkers.
His presence makes the sore muscles and blisters utterly bearable and is a constant reminder that the temporary aches of the walk are a black-and-white opposite to the pain of surgery, chemo, radiation and lives lost.
Until then, the black and white lawn ornament on Aragon cheers me on as I train for the walk.
About the author: Nancy Partridge is a native of Los Alamos. She learned to walk about a year after being born at Los Alamos Medical Center.
To register for the American Cancer Society Los Alamos Relay for Life (Aug. 25), go to https://www.facebook.com/American-Cancer-Society-Relay-for-Life-Los-Alamos-1764630063803786/ ; or
If you are interested in donating to, Nancy’s fundraising walks go to: www.the3day.org/goto/NancyPartridge (Susan G Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Seattle Sept. 14 – 17); or
http://main.acsevents.org/goto/npartridge (Avon & American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Santa Fe on Oct. 6.
Nancy Partridge, left, is joined by Cow Man and a fellow walker during a cancer walk in Santa Barbara, Calif. Courtesy photo
Nancy Partridge with supporters during a walk in Washington, DC. Courtesy photo