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Residents share reasons to rally

People with passion often come about it from experience. So when more than 100 members of River Hills Country Club rally to host their biennial benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Rally for a Cure and Arnie's Army Battles Prostate Cancer June 7 -- which includes golf, tennis and bridge -- it's not surprising many of the volunteers have personal accounts with the diseases. Three Lake Wylie residents share their stories with Lake Wylie Pilot on page 5A.

MORE ABOUT THE JUNE 7 EVENT: Golf begins at 1 p.m. at the country club, followed by tennis at 1:30 p.m. at the tennis center and bridge at 2 p.m., also at the country club. Prizes will be awarded. For more information on the event, call 803-831-2249 for golf, 803-831-1493 for tennis or 704-614-2042 for bridge.

Three Lake Wylie share why the June 7 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Rally for a Cure and Arnie's Army Battles Prostate Cancer rally is important to them, and others. -- John Marks, Pilot reporter

The fighter

Marilyn Feininger began fighting breast cancer before she ever faced it herself. When the June 7 event rolls around, Feininger plans to do both.

"It's an aggressive cancer that I have, but it's receptive to treatment," Feininger said last week, the day after she learned her liver is "full of cancer," reaching to her bones.

Feininger first fought the disease in 2001, when a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis came with news it would be treatable without chemotherapy. That diagnosis arrived five years after Feininger helped the once casual event among women golfers in River Hills become a full-fledged benefit for what is now Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"It all seemed to go very, very well," Feininger said of her first bout with the disease. "I took the doctor's pills for five years, and thought I was doing fine."

As she prepares for the benefit, Feininger's goals are simple and straightforward. Chemotherapy for the metastasized breast cancer comes in six week intervals, which she hopes can transform a "terminal illness to a chronic illness" and eventually let her "die of something else." Treatment begins this week.

For the River Hills resident since 1993 whose husband died in 2007 and nearest family lives in Atlanta, Feininger's news came as a relief just that treatment is an option.

"The day somebody prays for breast cancer," Feininger said prior to the diagnosis last week, shaking her head. "But that's what I'm rooting for. That's how far we've come."

The supporter

Karen Forehand moved to River Hills a year ago, and is not a breast cancer survivor. So naturally she began working tirelessly with the benefit, organizing -- as her name might suggest -- the tennis event.

"Cancer in all forms, but particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer, there is probably not a person around who's not affected by it," Forehand said.

A family member on her husband's side recently battled prostate cancer, but Forehand's closest experience with cancers came 14 years ago when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Only two years into motherhood herself, Forehand was not sure how to deal with the disease.

"It was an exciting and difficult time," she said.

In part because of events like the one June 7, treatment and knowledge of cancer now is immeasurably far beyond what it was 14 years ago, Forehand said. The lack of knowledge then made dealing with a diagnosis even harder than it would otherwise be, she said.

"Some of the early discussion was that breast cancer skips a generation," Forehand said. "My mother felt like she was passing along cancer to my daughter."

Since the original encounter with cancer, Forehand and her sister began getting early and regular mammograms, and working to raise awareness as well as funding. Forehand even found a lump herself almost a decade ago, which "turned out to be nothing."

"It doesn't feel like nothing," she said.

The veteran

Bobbie Cloaninger knows the long-term impact of cancer more than most, and how it never truly leaves a person.

"You approach life differently," she said. "You approach everything differently."

Cloaninger first found what eventually was diagnosed as breast cancer in 1974, just after moving to New Jersey. Because she was a new resident, just finding a doctor to confirm her finding was difficult.

"I'd never had a mammogram," she said. "It took me six weeks to find a doctor who'd take me because I was a new resident."

After a mastectomy, Cloaninger did not require chemo. Yet all these years later she still vividly remembers the pain of uncertainty, and of waiting.

"You can imagine what six weeks does to a person, just sitting there with this thing growing inside of me. I was a basket case."

Cloaninger moved to River Hills in 1979 hoping to put the disease behind her. And she did, for 19 years. In 1998--24 years after her first bout with cancer--Cloaninger had another mastectomy and three months of chemo, which led to other ailments.

"Why again?" she asked of her reaction. "Just why again when I'd been so careful and diligent with my lifestyle."

Yet Cloaninger turned her attention to helping with the benefit, which she worked with as co-chair several years and even plans to help this year, despite an impending move away from her River Hills community.

"Going through all these experiences, I have to have something to contribute," she said.