BRATTLEBORO >> The 3nd Annual Connie's Walk, celebrating the life of West Brattleboro resident Constance "Connie" Covey, will be held on Saturday, May 28, to support the Windham County Relay for Life and raise awareness of bladder cancer — the disease that took Covey's life in 2012.
The two-mile walk will begin at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at St. Michael's School on Walnut Street in Brattleboro. Registration begins at 9:15 a.m., but those who wish to register in advance or make a donation may visit the Connie's Angels website at main.acsevents.org/goto/Connies_Angels.
Covey, who lost her father and a brother to cancer, was a fund-raising leader for the Windham County Relay for Life, one of the American Cancer Society's overnight walk-a-thons held internationally to raise money for research and treatment and to educate the public about the many types of cancer.
Covey's daughter, Heather Harper, D.D.S., organizes the memorial walk annually. Her team for the Windham County Relay for Life, "Connie's Angels," is seeking sponsors to maximize contributions from the walk. Harper also wants to provide information about bladder cancer symptoms and risk factors and the need for more research.
"My mother was passionate about raising funds for cancer research and treatment, and I'm committed to carry on her work to fight this terribly complex group of diseases," said Harper. "But I also want to raise awareness of the cancer that took my mother's life, since bladder cancer is far more common than most people think and we need to get the word out about risk factors and symptoms."
The American Cancer Society estimates that 76,960 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in 2016 and 16,390 people will die from the disease. About 90 percent of people diagnosed with bladder cancer are over age 55.
"While bladder cancer is more common in men, women are more likely to die from the disease, since they are more likely than men to be diagnosed when the disease is advanced," said Harper. Fact sheets on bladder cancer, she added, will be distributed at the walk.
According to an article on the National Cancer Institute's website, bladder cancer is the 5th most common form of cancer in the U.S., yet it ranks disproportionately low in research funding when compared to its burden on society in years of life lost, total deaths, health costs and lost productivity.
Early detection is critical. The American Cancer Society's website states that when bladder cancer is diagnosed and treated at stage four, the five-year survival rate is 15 percent, whereas the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer detected and treated at stage zero is 98 percent. The site explains that treatment outcomes depend on many factors that are specific to the individual, and that many bladder cancer patients live far longer than five years.