An Oregon-born actress and breast cancer patient leads Walk for the Cause in Albany

By the Gazette-Times

ALBANY - The word "survivor" has taken on a whole new meaning for Jennifer Lyon.

The Oregon-born actress, who was among the stars of the television show "Survivor: Palau," served as the grand marshal for the 11th annual Walk for the Cause, a breast cancer fund-raiser held Saturday in Albany.

Lyon, who grew up in The Dalles, wrapped up shooting for the show in May 2005. Two months later, at age 33, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

"No more blond hair," she said, grinning at about a thousand walkers listening on the sidewalk below the Linn County Courthouse. "That's 'cause it all came out, and it came back much darker, and curly."

When cancer strikes, Lyon said, it's important to keep an upbeat attitude and be as supportive as possible.

"It's something that's going to happen to someone we know," she said. "There is no reason we can't get through it."

A record number of participants turned out for this year's walk, and so far it looks like the money raised will be a new record, too, said Lynn Hubert, co-chairwoman of the walk.

"We took in close to $30,000 just today," she said. "After we pay our bills and everything, we hope to clear close to $60,000. That's what we're shooting for."

The total raised comes from team and sponsor fees taken in before the walk itself, Hubert said. Last year's total was closer to $55,000.

Proceeds go to community health care agencies in the mid-valley to help with the detection and treatment of breast cancer, and to provide support services for women hit by other diseases.

Most walkers Saturday wore pink, the official color for breast cancer research support, and carried pink balloons.

Members of the Bussard and Sons Canvas Works team chose pink netting wrapped around shiny black plastic bowler hats.

Team members said they come to support three breast cancer survivors at their office: Pam Harris, Joyce Ammon and Jerry Nicholson.

Betty Lazon, a heart attack victim, said she planned to use the day to talk about other health issues, too, particularly heart disease.

"Nobody cares about us, and we're the number one killer!" she quipped. "But I'm wearing pink today."

"I think there's a bigger issue, because we know we're all at risk for this disease," said team member Pam Dunn, noting that the most recent research indicates one woman out of every eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It's not just about one person getting the disease," she said. "It's about all of us needing to do something together as women."

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