Friends help battle cancer

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

Morgan Phelps, with her father Darryl, is one of three area teens affected by cancer who have formed a Relay for Life team together. Darryl currently is battling cancer.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life.

Three friends that have known each other since they were in preschool have bonded the last couple years over something they hoped they would never experience.

Morgan Phelps’ father is fighting cancer. Brooke Wharam’s mother died of colorectal cancer last month. And Lauren Hardee’s best friend’s father died of brain cancer last year.

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“We’ve all been hit by the same disease about the same time,” Phelps said. “We’ve decided to do what we can to fight back.”

Phelps and Wharam are 16. Hardee is 18. Now, the three young ladies are teaming up for Relay for Life, set for May 18-19 at Bennett’s Creek Park in Suffolk.

Phelps captained her own team last year in honor of her father.

“Last year, it was really about Relaying for my dad and also for everyone else,” she said.

But with the year’s development’s — Wharam’s mother, Donna Wharam, was diagnosed only a few months before she died — Phelps’ outlook changed, she said.

“I realized it’s not just about my dad,” she said. “Everybody has some kind of connection, and they really wanted to help me out.”

The team, Bruin’s Bravest, has raised about $3,475 so far by sending out letters to friends and family. In addition, Wharam’s family asked that donations in her memory be sent to the team.

Phelps’ father still continues his fight with cancer, which began in September 2010. He has had surgery to remove a tumor at the base of his skull and is involved in a clinical trial at the University of Virginia.

The Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life now is less than three weeks away. To learn more about donating or participating, visit www.suffolkrockinrelay.org.