Norwalk resident Carol Germond could appreciate this weekend's Relay for Life that ended Saturday morning as much as any other cancer survivor. The 67-year-old woman is going through her second bout with ovarian cancer.
"It's a good event because you get to forget your own problems for a while," said Germond, who finished her latest round of chemotherapy in January. "It's very moving because there are many, many people who have been through chemo and survived. It's great to be here."
She first was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Sept. 24, 2004 after she had noticed her abdomen getting bigger about a month earlier.
"Once in a while I had a pain in my left side. I was just kind of suspicious," Germond said.
Her doctor sent her to an oncologist after Germond's belly felt like jelly.
"My surgery was about six hours. It had not invaded my intestines," she said. "The tumors that came back were on the inside of my intestines."
Despite having to deal with cancer for a second time, the retired Maplehurst Elementary School teacher believes in the power of positive thinking.
"I truly believe a positive attitude helps. My family has been very positive," Germond said.
Relay for Life, held for the sixth time in Norwalk, itself is a positive event. The American Cancer Society fund-raiser is held to honor cancer survivors as well as those who have died from the disease.
Cancer doesn't discriminate based on age.
Quentin O'Brien, 9, of Norwalk, was diagnosed with a brain tumor Oct. 19, 2005. His mother, Valerie, said Quentin started getting headaches and throwing up about a month before his surgery.
"Actually, he'd never had headaches before that. He's always been really healthy," Valerie O'Brien said.
When he heard about having a brain tumor, Quentin said his first thought was "screw it (because) I'm not going to let it bother me."
After his surgery, Quentin had a loss of speech and all involuntary movement.
"The first week after surgery, he couldn't open his own eyes and swallow his own spit," his mother said. "This February was when he got his speech back. He still can't walk on his own."
O'Brien is grateful for how accommodating Quentin's teachers at Monroeville Elementary School were as he went through "15 long months" of communicating only through gestures.
"They allowed him to rest," she said. "They've just been real supportive."