Why We Walk: Evelyn Saldana, Elgin

  • Sana Mahmood, left, and Evelyn Saldana

    Sana Mahmood, left, and Evelyn Saldana Courtesy of Get Your Rear in Gear-Elgin

  • 2014 Team Sunny Side Up, from left: Alberto Saldana, Evelyn Saldana, Lisa Derengowski, Sana Mahmood, Susan Clark Mahler, Lyra Gonzales Chanthana, and Sonia Mahmood.

    2014 Team Sunny Side Up, from left: Alberto Saldana, Evelyn Saldana, Lisa Derengowski, Sana Mahmood, Susan Clark Mahler, Lyra Gonzales Chanthana, and Sonia Mahmood. Courtesy of Get Your Rear in Gear-Elgin

 
By Evelyn Saldana
Elgin

Get Your Rear in Gear is something I became involved with through a good friend who was part of the committee for the Elgin event.

She asked if I wanted to join the 5K, and I did just because it was something I hadn't done before. Never did I imagine that I would be walking it with a much deeper purpose.

Months after I was invited to join I found out that a very good friend of mine, Sana Mahmood, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She is like a sister to me … my sister had colon cancer. The whole thing seemed like an unreal truth.

I didn't think that this could affect someone so young. She is but a few months older than me (I am 29). All I could think is "How?" I mean, we are young. We are full of life. We are enjoying life. We have too much left to do. How can this be possible? At her age? How? And that is when I did some homework and found out how indiscriminate this ugly disease is. Age is not a factor, and just like that our reality was checked.

Quickly thereafter her life changed forever. She underwent surgery and followed up with chemotherapy just in case. She has fought a great fight and continues to do so.

Looking back at it, I never thought colon cancer would make such an impact in my life, in the life of my loved ones.

No one is exempt, so easily this could affect anyone. To me that is why bringing awareness to this disease is so important. Early detection is the key. I'm so glad she listened to her body and that there was tests that were able to detect and diagnose this so early on.

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It's now a mission to bring these same resources to our community, to be able to provide the means for lives to be saved. Yes, those same lives will forever change as hers did, but they can live a good life if colon cancer is caught early on.

GYRIG provides those means to be able to give back to a community in need of resources. To give hope to those affected by this disease, and to bring awareness where it is lacking. It has provided us personally with a way to feel that we are supporting our friend and that we are walking this dreaded journey with her. It has allowed us to further explore the world of colon cancer and share with those around us and our community how real this disease is.

I walk for my friend, my sister. It is the least I can do to try to help her carry her load. It is one step closer to finding a way so that no one else will feel what she felt.

 

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