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Team Jim West focuses on Friday

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By Carol A. Clark

Longtime community leader Jim West wanted to be here Friday for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event at Ashley Pond.

West can’t attend because he is battling cancer and will be going through a new treatment program in Texas.

“I will go into the San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown Monday to start a new chemo therapy course,” he said in an e-mail Tuesday. “I’m told it will be much more severe and invasive and possibly damaging to my heart and kidneys.”

The former Los Alamos County Councilor describes what his new treatment entails.

“I will receive a treatment every 21 to 28 days depending on how well I’m tolerating the new chemicals,” West said. “I will have to have frequent heart and kidney monitoring by a cardiologist and nephrologists. Each treatment takes four days and I will receive three of them. If after the three treatments the cancer is gone, then they will consider a stem cell transplant. I’ll just have to wait and see.”

West has been told that he will not feel very well during the treatment. As a result, he will not be able to be in contact with the local community much for the next couple of months, he said.

“Thanks again for all the support you have given me,” West says to Los Alamos. “I am sincerely grateful and I thank all of you from the bottom f my heart for every kindness and prayer.”

West resigned from the Los Alamos County Council in November 2008 after being diagnosed with a cancer that had metastasized and was found to be in an advanced stage. He traveled to Houston to undergo chemotherapy and blood transfusions for Large Cell Lymphoma.

One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, and the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay For Life brings more than 3.5 million people together nationwide to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember those lost and to fight the disease.

“More people are surviving cancer than ever before, and there are many reasons to celebrate,” said County Council Vice Chair Michael Wismer who formed Team Jim West.

“This weekend’s Relay For Life is a celebration of life for those who have survived and our honorary chair Jim West embraces this concept because he is a fighter. He really wanted to be here but because he’s entering another phase of treatment, he’s asked me to read a letter aloud from him at the opening the event at 6 p.m. Friday at Ashley Pond.”

Because West is a fighter and an upbeat person, and to honor his wish that the event be a celebration, local Relay For Life co-chairs Alan Wadlinger and Cindy Eaton and a myriad of volunteers put together a real celebration of life to make West and all other cancer survivors proud, Wismer said.

“One of the key aspects that Jim and other survivors will appreciate it the effort made to capitalize on the talents of local artists and musicians to help create an atmosphere of celebration,” he said. “For instance, Tony Chan has created a special music ensemble for the survivor dinner on Friday evening, which he will perform. Peace Meal also has volunteered to perform Friday night and local DJ Tim Gallegos will add his unique style of rockin and rollin as he plays his music throughout the evening.”

Luminarios will light up the pond in honor of those who lost their lives to cancer, Wismer said.

Volunteers have held fundraisers throughout the community and 17 relay teams have signed up to help the local Relay For Life reach its goal of $50,000 to help fight and find a cure for cancer.

“Jim would be pleased and I would like to invite everyone in the community to participate both Friday and Saturday at Ashley Pond,” Wismer said.

For information, access http://teamjimwest.blogspot.com/.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.