As beards and mustaches start to sprout during No-Shave November, South Fayette Township resident Stacy Hurt is stashing away her razor, too.
“I have broken the news to my husband: I’m not shaving my legs for a month,” she said. “He’s not that happy about it, but he knows it’s for a good cause.”
Her revelation drew laughter from folks attending South Fayette’s Thanks for Giving lunch for township event sponsors Nov. 1. And that’s fine, because like everyone else, Hurt enjoys having fun.
But most of her message addressed her own battle with cancer and her continuing efforts to support awareness and fundraising campaigns such as No-Shave November, during which participants are asked to donate the money they typically spend on shaving and grooming to help save lives.
Participating this year are South Fayette Township police officers, including Jim Jeffery, who took donations during Thanks for Giving and distributed lavender bands, the awareness color for all cancers, for supporters to wear.
Hurt told about speaking at a program a couple of years ago while undergoing treatment for cancer.
“It was a very difficult evening for me, and as I was leaving the meeting, the first person who came up to me was John Phoennik, our chief of police,” she recalled. “And he reached out to me and he said, ‘If I can ever do anything for you or your family, you let me know.’ It makes me really emotional that he did that.
“So when John called me and asked if I could be the patient ambassador for this campaign,” Hurt said about No-Shave November, “I dropped everything to be there for John.”
She was diagnosed in 2014.
“On my 44th birthday, I was told that I had Stage 4 colorectal cancer that had aggressively metastasized to 27 places in my body,” she said. “I’m a nonsmoker, athlete, fit as a fiddle, healthiest person I know. It came out of nowhere, and we still don’t know why I got it. No family history.
“I asked the doctor what my chances were, and he wouldn’t answer me. So that tells you it’s bad. I was not expected to live.”
Hurt underwent 55 chemotherapy treatments and two surgeries, suffering cardiac arrest and almost dying during one. Today, she is cancer-free.
She cited her two sons – Griffin and Emmett, who is nonverbal and nonambulatory – as major inspiration in her battle.
“At the time I was diagnosed, Griffin was 10 and Emmett was eight, and Griffin asked me, ‘Mom, are you going to die?’ I don’t know, parents in the room, but that’s as tough as it gets,” she said. “In the other room, I saw my husband, Drew, changing Emmett’s diaper. And I looked at that and I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere.’
“That’s why I’m here and that’s why this is so important to me, so important that I gave up a career in health care to now be an advocate for cancer awareness and cancer research, and for disabilities and inclusion,” Hurt continued. “So this is my whole life, and I’m just really grateful to everyone in South Fayette who has supported me.”
She encouraged those at Thanks for Giving to support No-Shave November at their places of business, and for all efforts toward battling cancer.
“It does not know political affiliation. It does not know religion. It does not know nationality,” she said. “We have all been affected by cancer. We’re all in this together.”