The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — The 2013 Relay For Life of the Lewisburg Area has selected Robert “Bob” Harder to serve as the Honorary Chair for this year’s Relay For Life event. As Honorary Chair, Harder will be a spokesperson for Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society, and visible in the community leading up to the event on June 7. In addition, Harder will be part of Relay’s opening ceremony on Friday evening, June 7. This will be Harder’s fourth year participating in Relay For Life as a prostate cancer survivor and advocate.
Harder was diagnosed in the spring of 2010 with prostate cancer after increasing PSA numbers prompted his urologist to order a biopsy of the prostate. Although the initial cancer diagnosis was alarming, Harder credited his faith and a positive attitude for seeing him through the months of treatments. “God never promised that life is going to be easy, but he is there to support you through difficult and challenging times,” Harder shared. “If you don’t have that, it’s got to be more scary, more dramatic... less easy to be optimistic, easier to be pessimistic.”
Based on the recommendation of his doctor and his own research, Harder began IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy) at Geisinger Medical Center from Aug. 31 until Oct. 22, of 2010 — 40 treatments in all. Although he did experience a few side effects, Harder emphasized that they were manageable. It is now three years later, and Harder’s health is better than ever. His PSA levels reveal a healthy number of 0.25, he is no longer taking prescription medication, and he exercises regularly. Looking back on his cancer journey, Harder shared, “In a way, it was a blessing in disguise with respect to my own life, and my own focus on what’s important and what’s truly meaningful in life.”
Harder felt compelled to become involved with Relay after his diagnosis in 2010, feeling grateful to be a survivor and wanting to give back in some way. But being named the Honorary Chair places Harder in the unique position to promote how cancer has impacted his life, and Harder feels strongly about prostate cancer awareness. The disease is the most common cancer diagnosis a man will hear (second only to skin cancer). One in six men will be diagnosed in his lifetime, with 238,590 new cases to be diagnosed in 2013 alone. With such high statistics, Harder has been surprised by the culture of silence among men to discuss the disease, treatment, and side effects, and he is passionate about starting a dialogue. But overall, Harder wants to drive home the importance of Relay For Life as an annual program, not just a 24-hour event. “Everyone has family members or friends who have had cancer,” says Harder. “We need to work in every way we can to help prevent and eradicate cancer, to try and find the cure.”
Harder will join the ranks of previous Honorary Chairs who have bravely spoken out about their experiences with cancer and inspired thousands in the greater Lewisburg community. For more information on how to become involved in Relay For Life as a volunteer or participant, visit www.relayforlife.org/palewisburg or www.facebook.com/relaylewisburgarea.com.
The theme for 2013 Relay for Life is “The Amazing Race to One Million Dollars”. The fundraising goal for this year’s event will be to reach $1,000,000 — a milestone that the Lewisburg Area is close to achieving in its 11th year of Relay For Life. Co-chairs for the 2013 Relay For Life of the Lewisburg Area are Christy Zelechoski and Maria Bhangdia. 2013 Relay for Life of the Lewisburg Area will begin Friday, June 7 at 1 p.m. and end Saturday, June 8 at 1 p.m. at Pawling Athletic Complex.