(GX Online) – April 11, 2014: Sergeant Stephanie Foster is usually the first to know.
A member of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 120th Medical Company, she works in her civilian life as a laboratory technician in pediatric oncology. Her job is to locate cancer cells in children. After drawing a young patient’s blood, she peers through a microscope at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, looking for evidence she desperately hopes not to find.
But find it she does – far too often: malevolent cancer cells lurking amid healthy ones. That’s when she knows that a family is about to begin a life-and-death battle. Foster forms relationships with her young patients and their loved ones, even though doing so risks a broken heart each time. “It’s totally worth it,” she says. “The way they touch your life, it’s amazing. They’re so strong – stronger than the strongest Soldier out there.”
Strong enough to inspire Foster, a fitness instructor and versatile athlete, to push her physical limits to raise money and awareness on their behalf. She has previously entered walking events to raise money for cancer research. But nothing quite like what she’s about to try. She says it’s the least she can do, after what she’s received from them.
All of her patients touch her heart.
B.J. Morgan touched her soul.
It’s the first week in December, and the CureSearch for Children’s Cancer Ultimate Hike is days away.
The charity hike, an intense, one-day, 22-mile march through scenic mountains in northwest Arkansas, comes with several changes in elevation. Foster and her daughter, Specialist Jessica Cousins, also of Oklahoma’s 120th Medical Company, had signed up to raise money for research in B.J.’s honor. They’re calling their two-person team Soldiers of C.H.A.O.S. (Cancer Help and Oncology Support).
Leading up to the hike, organizers told participants to be prepared for temperatures in the 50s. But the weather takes a drastic turn a few days before the event. Forecasters call for temperatures in the 20s, with a snow and ice storm coinciding with when Foster, Cousins and 26 other hikers are scheduled to arrive. Organizers make it clear: Safety comes first. If the trip to Rogers, AR, will be dangerous, stay home. Read more…