Woman riding 500 miles to aid hospital

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LINCOLN, Mo. -- A Missouri woman who has battled breast cancer is biking and walking more than 500 miles to raise money for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, Mo.

Freda Swigert, 41, of Lincoln, left Wednesday from Missouri on her journey to Nashville, Tenn. The Sedalia Democrat reported that she hopes to arrive by Memorial Day.

Swigert was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer about five years ago and underwent six months of chemotherapy treatments. The breast cancer is gone, but her family continues to be touched by the disease. Swigert's father and two aunts died of cancer, and Swigert said she knows how vital treatment and research are for saving lives.

"It's very important to me, because I'm the type of person who just wants to help people," Swigert said.

Swigert now has problems with her pancreas, a blood clot in her leg and diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes in which nerves are damaged.

"It burns your feet from the inside out," Swigert said of the pain associated with her neuropathy. "But I just don't let things stop me."

Nonetheless, Swigert had been walking and biking for more than a year to prepare for the trip. She said on a good day, she can bike 50 miles and walk about 28 miles.

Last year, Swigert did a similar, shorter ride. She raised $154 for cancer treatment.

This time, "if I get $1,000 that would make me happy," Swigert said.

Swigert said the hospital staff at the cancer center encouraged her to keep going during her stay there, and her biking and walking journey is one way to encourage others in similar situations.

She is already planning another ride -- to Corpus Christi, Texas, in July -- to try to raise more money.

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