MHS hosts Donna Walls Cancer Walk
Manila High School hosted the third annual Cancer Walk in recognition of Donna Walls. Mrs. Donna, as she is known by students and faculty at MHS, is a breast cancer survivor. Walls worked as a substitute and paraprofessional for the Manila School District until her retirement.
Mary Smith, coordinator for the event, introduced Walls who spoke to the students about her journey.
"In 2000, I was diagnosed with breast cancer," Walls said. "I had to give up being a hair dresser. I really never thought I would die, or at least not today. That is what I told myself every morning.
"My granddaughter suggested I apply as a substitute teacher at the school. I came to school the first day with no hair wearing a hat.
"I want you to know this school saved my life. I want each of you to know you are all important. My cancer has come back. I am not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I am only one of thousands battling cancer. Breast cancer is not just a woman's disease. Men can also have breast cancer.
"My cancer came back in the bone. I did not choose this disease. It took my mother. You never know who it will choose. I don't know why I am a survivor when others are not. Some victims are much younger than I am. I am 71 and I still want to live.
"I want each of you to know you have a choice - not about this disease but you have a choice - what you put in your mouth or smoke. Please, do not harm your body. Every day I fight. Last year when I was here you invited me back this year. I want you to say a prayer for me and I will try to be here next year."
Walls ended with the words of a song she had heard earlier in the day, "Hang on until tomorrow, you are only a day away."
"We are here in honor of Mrs. Donna," Smith said. "The funds raised today will go to provide a scholarship for a graduating senior. I appreciate everyone who is taking a part in the walk."
The next guest speaker was Jon Myers, Manila band director. He showed the young people pictures of two famous people and asked them what those celebrities had in common with his father.
"They all had breast cancer," Myers said. "It is not common in men but it is there." He said 230,000 women and 2,000 men have breast cancer each year. Five hundred men die every year with breast cancer. "About two years before my dad died, he felt a lump in his breast and it turned out to be cancer, Myers said. He told them it is more prevalent in older men but he wanted the guys to know it is not just a disease that afflicts women.
Samantha Costner talked to the students about handling stress. She encouraged them to work out ways that will work for them. Suggestions included keeping a journal, exercise, calling a friend, deep breathing, focusing on the positive, etc.
Smith offered five rules for healthy eating including drinking more water; eating breakfast; giving up sodas; not eating fried foods every day; and reading food labels. If it has more than seven to eight ingredients, there are probably additives you don't need in your body.
Jessica Wise, a nutritionist, led the group in some stress relieving exercising. She talked to them about walking/running and good nutrition.
"I would be glad to help anyone with healthy diet tips," Wise said.
Participants went out in groups for the campus walk. Teams were distributed throughout the walk sharing information.
At the end of the walk, a cape was placed around Walls' shoulders, and she did a victory lap in honor of all breast cancer survivors and those who are battling cancer.
The event raised over $450 for the scholarship fund.