Racing to Save Lives in the Valley


WAYNESBORO,Va. (WHSV)-- Runners are helping cancer patients who otherwise may not be able to afford their treatment.

"They said about the time I came into the ER, I had a very aggressive fast growing cancer, so I was somewhere between 24 hours and one week from having either a heart attack or a stroke," said cancer survivor Robert Belcher.

Belcher got the shock of his life a year ago.

"They diagnosed me with lymphoma, all across my upper chest. I had lymph nodes that were growing and cutting off my blood vessels," said Belcher. He underwent numerous cancer treatments that took a toll on his body and his wallet.

"I was diagnosed in May of last year, and I had a six month chemo regiment after that, and then weeks of radiation and that stuff just wrecks you," said Belcher.

Luckily, he got help because of Augusta Health's Bridge Fund.

"The Bridge Fund is there to 'bridge the gap' from not having any help to getting further help," said Leigh Anderson.

Anderson works with the Augusta Health Cancer Center. She says the fund helps pay for medical bills and other expenses related to a patient's cancer treatment, when they can't afford it. On July 12, Augusta Health held a 5k/10k run and walk to benefit the Bridge Fund.

"If they have to make the choice between food and their medication and I can use this fund to help them with that, it's an awesome feeling," said Anderson.

Over 300 people ran the race, and about $4,500 is expected to be raised this year. Belcher credits his life to the fund, because of the money he got from it last year.

"I got to a point where I couldn't get medication for a specific time and the Bridge Fund steps in and buys me medication, like, just to cover the week, I needed a day and they bought me a week, and probably saved my life," said Belcher.

Now that he's cancer free, Belcher is walking to pay it forward. He is also currently in the process of writing a book about his experience with cancer, and expected to be finished with the book by the end of the summer.


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