Banks: Fighting for those who can’t

Published 9:36 pm Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jeanne Banks has seen her loved ones picked off by cancer one by one.

Her mother-in-law battled it. She lost her brother to it. It took her brother-in-law. And, now, she and her sister help care for their niece who has three different types of cancer.

“When you are living with cancer and fighting it every day, it drains you mentally, physically and even spiritually,” Banks said. “I’ve seen it. That’s my motivation. I want to be there to fill the gap and help support them.”

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And that is how Banks has lived her life.

“I know it has given me more compassion” she said. “It has given me a greater appreciation for life and a better understanding of death. You can’t stand by and watch these people suffer from it without asking why. I just don’t understand it.”

Throughout the years, she has been there to love and care for the needs of those around her who have had cancer, and her current role is helping care for her niece, whose parents passed away, by going with her to treatments, spending time and taking food for her and hospital staff.

“I just do what I can,” she said. “My heart is there, and I do everything I possibly can.”

Banks has also been a key leader in Suffolk’s Rockin’ Relay for Life, which she has participated in for over a decade. She has served as chair or co-chair for the past six years.

“One year we met our goal, so I sprayed my white hair purple,” she said.

The relay is held every year to raise money for the American Cancer Society, to assist it with cancer research. This year’s goal is $212,00.

“I deeply love and respect the American Cancer Society, for what they stand for and do,” Banks said. “I admire how they educate people about cancer, how they educate people about their diet and all the work they do to find a cure.”

It breaks her heart when funds are cut from congress because it means another setback to finding a cure.

“Oh, please don’t cut funds from cancer research,” Banks said she thinks whenever budget issues arise.

To do her part, Banks even helps out by driving people in the community to their treatments.

“You have people who can’t afford gas to get treatment,” she said. “We have a program to pick them up though. There are so many opportunities to service people with cancer. There’s always a need. There’s always a need. The need is so wide and vast and so serious.”

Banks wears her purple bracelet everyday “for those who can’t wear it,” she said.

She said she is looking forward to Daffodil Days, the next Relay for Life fundraiser, which will be on March 19.

“The money all goes to the American Cancer Society,” Banks said. “We just try to do anything that needs to be done at any time, to show our love and respect for those living and fighting cancer.”

To order your own daffodils to support the Relay for Life and help Banks find a cure call Ray’s Florist at 934-6270.