With the Spirit of Survival going virtual this year, a cancer support group decided that they still wanted to do the Spirit Walk as a group. So, they put on their Survivor shirts, tied their tennis shoes, and went for a walk during their weekly meeting.

“It means a great deal to me,” said Karin Pickard, a cancer survivor. “I am with friends and family, and it makes you feel good.”

Kae Mercadante, who is also a cancer survivor, said she left blessed to be able to do it outside the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma with them.

“Because everybody else is doing it virtually, we actually get to come here and sees together, and I think it gets your adrenaline pumping and just see that there is faith and hope and how blessed you really are.”

Mercadante said she’s one of the original members of the “Life Matters” support group, which has been meeting for approximately 10 years.

“We are not only survivors, but we’re also thrivers,” Mercadante said. “And we have to know that this is our new normal. We may not do things as fast as we used to, but we do them, and we get them done.”

The group is open to cancer survivors and anyone who has been affected by cancer. While Ross Henderson is the only man in the group, it is open to everyone. Henderson, who has battled cancer three times, said he’s so glad he found them.

“I needed someplace to go because I was feeling depressed,” he said. “And I needed a group to belong to, and this is the group I chose.”

While the Spirit of Survival is virtual this year, Mercadante hopes people will still participate because of how much it helps those undergoing cancer treatments at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma.

“Even though it’s virtual, hopefully, we’ll get back to the other way, but it’s so important to raise the funding for transportation, for care, for things like that,” Mercadante said. “This way, nobody has to go to Oklahoma City for treatment. They can stay in Lawton, and that is such a blessing. Having traveled back and forth, when you don’t feel good, that’s not a good trip.”

If you’d like to run, walk or bike, you still have time to sign up for the virtual Spirit of Survival. Registration is open until October 1st. Go to spiritofsurvival.com to sign up.