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Cancer benefit Saturday for McDonough resident

Friends of a Henry County woman are banding together this weekend, to assist her in fighting against a deadly disease. A walk-a-thon is scheduled for Saturday, for Cynthia Ouya, at Wesley Lakes Elementary School in McDonough, from 10:30 a.m., to 4 p.m.,

Ouya is battling breast cancer, and proceeds from the walk-a-thon are intended to help her pay her rent, and utilities. The 42-year-old mother of three, who is originally from the Congo, in Central Africa, worked as a waitress at a Waffle House, on Ga. Highway 20/81 in McDonough, prior to her diagnosis in December of 2010.

She said she was not completely prepared to hear of her sickness.

"I knew something was totally wrong with me, but when the doctor came in and announced it, it took me 10 minutes to adjust to the bad news," she said. "I broke down and cried, then I brought my focus back on my kids."

Ouya said a doctor detected cancer in her right breast, and she immediately began chemotherapy. Ouya, a single mother, added that because of the physical limitations placed on her as a result of the treatment, she has been unable to work since being diagnosed.

"Giving birth is a piece of cake," she said. "Chemo is not."

About 45 people were signed up for the walk-a-thon as of Wednesday morning, according to Ouya. Pledges of support are being sought from individuals, and organizations, in the community.

Ouya's neighbor, Ursula Elgers, is organizing the walk. A cancer survivor herself, Elgers said she began planning the event the same day Ouya was diagnosed.

"I walked the walk, so I know exactly how she's feeling and what she's going through," said Elgers. "I was, at the time, a single mother with three children of my own, and another child I was taking care of in my house. So, I knew how she was feeling."

Elgers said that, during her own fight against thyroid cancer, in 2005, she was living in Ohio, and received help from organizations, including the American Cancer Society. She hopes to raise $13,000 through the walk-a-thon on Ouya's behalf, asking people to donate funds, or to pledge a given amount per mile walked participants.

"I look at this as an opportunity to give back the blessing that I was blessed with," said Elgers. "I refuse to believe she's not going to beat this battle. If 500 people donated $20 each, that would secure a year's rent."

Susan Hoffman, executive director of Henry County Cancer Services, is planning to attend the walk-a-thon. She is inspired Ouya's determination in battling cancer, and in being a mother to her kids. "We all can relate to her," said Hoffman. "I don't know that I could work and raise children and fight cancer, all at the same time. Chemo takes all of your energy."

Hoffman also commended Elgers and others, who have committed their time to increasing awareness of cancer through the walk-a-thon. "It really shows that we are a community," Hoffman said. "Not everyone can write a check for a huge amount of money, but together, a lot of us can put together a little, and make a huge difference."

For more details about the walk-a-thon, visit www.wix.com/teamcynthia/live.