20 Faces of Komen Columbus: Week 7

Since this May 19, 2012 will be the 20th Annual Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, for the next 20 weeks we’re going to spotlight 20 individuals who have participated in the Race throughout the years. They come from all walks of life and may be survivors, volunteers, grantees, sponsors or advocates, but they’re all committed to the fight against breast cancer.

Week 7: The One Who Gives Back
Guest post by Ashley Shipley

Ella Jane Hampton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She knows what it’s like to sit in a room receiving treatment for a disease so many have lost, to feel alone and surrounded by people at the same time. She’s seen the faces of so many who are battling for their life, their future. Since her diagnosis, she’s been an invaluable resource for Komen Columbus and area men and women undergoing treatment.

Ella’s first race was in 2004, after completing her chemo and radiation treatments. Armed with some newly grown hair and strength she had long been without, she signed up with her husband who had just undergone open-heart surgery between her breast cancer treatments.

Her first race remains one of the most memorable for her and her husband. Overwhelmed with the community’s participation and commitment to the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, Ella and her husband found themselves in a literal sea of pink and haven’t turned back since.

Ella Jane and her grandson

“We knew we had to commit ourselves to being involved with such a wonderful organization in their commitment to raise awareness of the importance of a positive breast health program.”

When asked about a Race that stands out in her mind, Ella tells the inspirational story of her grandson’s race experience at three years old.

“The Third Race I participated in, my grandson J.C. was only 3 and he decided he wanted to walk with me rather than being pulled in his wagon by his Daddy. We hadn’t walked very far and he was tired, so when I saw the Survivor Express, (transportation provided for survivors currently going through or those who have recently completed treatment,) I asked if we could ride. What an uplifting experience this was for both of us. The bus was not too full. Most of the people on the bus were still in treatment and had assistants with them. They were very weak but still maintained their composure. J.C. had a million questions for them. ‘Are you sick? Can I help you? Do you have breast cancer like my Granny?’ Then out of the blue, he lay down on the seat, looked up at the lights in the bus and asked if he could sing. The lights in the bus must have triggered his little brain, he was going to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. As he finished his song, he stood up and told each and everyone one of us to just make a wish and we would be better. He had us all crying with that!”

Ella doesn’t just devote herself to fundraising during race season, she also visits Columbus Oncology twice a year to talk with the patients taking chemo. Bringing them small gifts of cookies, bracelets, bears- all in pink of course, she also brings them encouragement, hope, smiles, and sometimes-even tears. Having been in their shoes, Ella knows all too well what it’s like to sit through treatment and she does whatever she can to east their minds… and their hearts.

“Being a part of Komen Columbus’s organization gives me a way to fight back for the people I love, for the people that have lost their battle – anything I can do to help prevent others from my diagnosis is a cause I am honored to be a part of.  Breast cancer is really a family disease and everyone in the family needs support.”

Her advice to those currently coping with breast cancer- “Never give up, always have a positive attitude and let others help you out.”

Ella will be at the 2012 race celebrating survivorship and honoring those who have lost the battle. Her grandson J.C., now 8, will be right by her side (along with J.C.’s 6-year-old sister Ashley). Join them by registering today!