THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
By Bert Valenkamph
My story begins on a cool wet night in September of 2007. My wife Nancy and I were spending the weekend at our camper in Monticello, Indiana. While visiting our friends campsite, Nancy slipped on the wet deck and broke her leg.
At the end of the healing period, Nancy started having alot of pain in her arms. The doctor thought it was just from using the crutches for so long and told her to come in and he would give her a shot for it. It was right before we were going on vacation in March of 2008. He decided as a precautionary measure to take an x-ray of it. Off we went on our vacation with friends to Disney World.
While on that vacation, we received a call from the doctor saying something was seriously wrong with that arm and we needed to get back as soon as possible. As soon as we got back, more tests were done and it was discovered that Nancy had a tumor in her arm and it was cancerous.
The tumor was very fast acting it had eaten away all of the bone structure around the elbow, so not only did the tumor have to be removed but her arm had to be rebuilt in that area. Surgery took place that spring to remove the tumor and rebuild the arm.
The surgery went well the tumor was removed and the rebuild of the arm structure was a success. The bad news was the cancer had already spread to the lung, the liver and the back. Neuroendocrine cancer was the diagnosis. Radiation and Chemotherapy followed. Nancy applied for many test treatments but never made it into any of them. We visited one of the top neuroendocrine facilities in the United States and the World, but there was nothing they could do. Nancy fought so hard and never gave up, her spirit never dwindled. When she died on February 22, 2010 she had endured over 100 radiation and chemotherapy sessions and the cancer still left her with over 100 tumors in her body. Nobody should ever have to experience that, nobody should ever have to endure that pain.
During her battle against cancer, Nancy got us involved with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life program and in particular the Relay for Life walk in Tippecanoe county in Lafayette, Indiana. I will never forget as long as I live the Walk in June of 2009. Nancy was in so bad of shape and her cell count was so low from treatment that the Doctors would not even let her brush her teeth because they were afraid that she would bleed to death. Yet she found the strength to walk the survivor lap on that Relay for Life track at Lafayette Jefferson High School that night and several other laps before resting. What an inspiration she was to so many people, what a battle she fought. My life changed that night, I had never seen something that courageous in front of me.
Over the last 30 days of her life, Nancy and I had so many conversations, she wanted me to make sure that I did not eat pizza and burgers for the rest of my life, she wanted me to do everything I could to make my kids successful, and she wanted me to promise to her that I would dedicate the rest of my life doing everything I can to fight the fight against cancer. I made that promise to her. I made that commitment to her and that is why I fight the fight against cancer and will always fight the fight against cancer. I embarked on a mission in 2010 to do everything I could. I walked the Relay for Life in Lafayette that summer of 2010 and started the Nancy Valenkamph Cancer Foundation. All of the funds raised by the Foundation goes to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Program and the fight against Cancer.
The mainstay fund-raiser is our Golf Outing which I began in May 2011. The event has grown from one shot gun start and 128 golfers to two shotgun starts on the same day and 320 Golfers and a fall event. This past year was the 10th Annual Nancy Valenkamph Memorial Outing that occurred over two days due to Covid. This year the 11th Annual Nancy Valenkamph Memorial Golf Outing will occur over two days on May 19 and May 20th with a single shotgun start on each day starting at 11:30. The Fall event will occur on September 23 with a single shot gun start at 11:30
The Nancy Valenkamph Cancer Foundation has raised over the history of our events $950,000 for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Program and the fight against cancer. We should be attaining our $1,000,000 goal with our events this year. This is only possible because of the generosity of our golfers, sponsors, workers, volunteers, family and friends who give so much to make this possible. I am so blessed by this generosity, kindness and support. As the late Coach Jim Valvano said in his famous cancer speech, "Don’t ever give up, don’t ever give up", I never will.