FALCONER - Mother, daughter and friend to many, Brenda Woodard is seeking support in her struggle with stage three colon cancer.
Woodard, 35, a native of Falconer and Randolph areas, was diagnosed with cancer in January. And, as a single mother of three, Tiffany, 16, Daryn, 14, and Nicole, 12, Woodard's battle hasn't been easy.
A benefit will be held for Woodard beginning at noon Saturday at the Falconer Rod and Gun Club, Buffalo Street Extension in Falconer. The event will feature live entertainment, a cake contest, bake sale, Chinese auction, drawings and children's activities. A spaghetti dinner will be served until 5 p.m., and take-outs are available. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family.
Brenda Woodard, center, is pictured with her father Larry Woodard, left, and her three children, Tiffany, Daryn and Nicole.
According to Michele Bova, Woodard's sister, Woodard will undergo aggressive chemo for the next six to nine months, with radiation treatment to follow. The benefit will attempt to assist Woodard with her medical expenses, which are dramatically increasing because she cannot currently work.
"She had a fairly large tumor, and they took out some of her stomach and intestine before finding cancer in her lymph nodes," said Bova. "She's on what they call 'chemo blasting,' will do radiation and is doing bone marrow injections. In addition she was diagnosed with colitis, an inflammation of the lower intestine, after the surgery. It's really wreaking havoc with her, and we hope she can beat this."
Woodard's symptoms began with a stomachache, which Bova noticed during a Thanksgiving dinner.
"She was picking at the food, and I asked, 'Don't you like my food?' And she said, 'I just don't feel like eating,'" said Bova. "She knew something was seriously wrong, but hid it, so we urged her to get seen, and within three weeks we knew that she had major troubles. It was panic for us when we found out, but she was like, 'I'm going to beat this.' She's very upbeat, which is her demeanor. I think that's why she's loved by so many people. She's like the ray of sunshine in the room - she can take the darkest, drabbiest situation and make it the happiest."
"She's very positive about the whole thing and always has a smile on her face even when she doesn't feel good," added Roberta Handy, of Kennedy, Woodard's aunt. "She is a very well-loved person, and you couldn't ask for a better niece."
Daughters of Larry Woodard, Bova and Woodard grew up on a dairy farm in Falconer. In addition to raising three children as a single mother, Woodard has worked two jobs to support her family. She has a Class A driver's license and drives a tractor-trailer, but cannot work due to her illness.
"We grew up farm kids, and my Dad instilled work ethic into us both very much," said Bova. "My sister has always worked - two jobs as a matter of fact. She drives a liquor truck full time, and works for West Point Military Academy, hauling cadets and soldiers to JFK on the weekends. She's got drive, go, go, go - she's not happy unless she's moving. But, with the treatments they have in store for her, she won't be back to work until at least December, and that's if she does get better. She has grave concerns of the medical debt and (is) fearful that she is going to lose her home."
As the family are avid hunters, use of the Falconer Rod and Gun Club to hold the event was donated by friends. Many donations of food, prizes and more have been provided by the community.
"She's one of those people who if she has the time or something to offer, she's the one who gives," said Bova. "That's why I think this benefit is such a wonderful blessing for her because she deserves a helping hand. We are thankful for all the people who have come together to help the family put this together."
For more information, call 969-6626 or search for "Brenda Woodard Benefit" on Facebook.