ODESSA, Texas, (Big 2 / Fox 24) – A special event was held at Memorial Park Saturday morning as many people gathered to show their support and to honor local cancer survivors. West Texas Gifts of Hope hosted their annual Pain the Park event, to support not only survivors but also those who are still battling cancer.
Olga Kelly was one of many cancer survivors at Paint the Park. Kelly’s battle with breast cancer is one she will never forget. Having lost her mother just two weeks before being diagnosed, Kelly never thought she’d receive the news that would send her down a long road to battle and recovery.
“Well actually it was a pretty big shock, I just happened to go in for a routine mammogram and I was actually late going in, and so they found it.,” Kelly said. “The whole time I was just thinking no it’s not me, I stay healthy, I do everything I’m supposed to do. When starting radiation was finally when it hit me that yeah it’s you.”
After surgery and five weeks of radiation, Kelly has been cancer free for three years. Paint the Park aims to support survivors like Kelly by displaying colorful flags in their honor.
“We actually have over 160 flags flying,” said Brenda Medlock, Executive Director of West Texas Gifts of Hope. “So when you drive by on 42nd Street in Odessa you will see the different colors and they represent the different types of cancer that people have battled or they are continuing to fight.”
Not only does the event support survivors but the organization has teamed up with Texas Oncology and also raises awareness about cancer itself. They want other people who are fighting the battle to know they are not alone.
“They’re still dealing with you know some of the after affects with treatment and everything else,” said Ryan Sprel, Physician Assistant for Texas Oncology. “They just need to know that they have our support they have the support of the community and we’re gonna get them through this thing.”
As for Kelly, she doesn’t want to be defined by her cancer experience.
“It was a chapter and it’s over, I hope,” Kelly said. “But you know everybody still has their chapter and I want to continue fighting for them.”