Race Team Highlight – Team Rita Stanistreet
Team Rita Stanistreet has just registered in the race for the 5th year in a row this year! Paula Stanistreet Lynch is the captain for this team and their story and reason for racing is a touching one told by Paula’s daughter below…
We started participating in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure after we lost Nana Rita. Rita had two children, and six grandchildren, but she was Nana Rita to everyone who knew her. She had a heart of gold and was a friend to everyone she met. She didn’t have an easy life, but she never complained. She was tough as nails. She was born and raised in Liverpool, England, and lived her entire life there. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was a 35 years old widow, with two children at home. She fought hard and prevailed. She beat cancer. 29 years later, at the age of 64, she received horrible news; the breast cancer had returned. This time, she was a Nana to 5 young grandchildren, and living alone. Her daughter (my mom) stayed with her through treatment and a mastectomy. She beat cancer a second time. She loved to socialize, be with her friends, visit her family, and go on vacations. But, seven years later, she was diagnosed for a third time, at the age of 70. She had just returned back to England from visiting us for a three month period, where my mom (her only daughter) was married. She did what she knew she had to do, and got tests ran, blood work done, and waited for the treatment. But, this time was different. The cancer had started metastasizing and was causing complications with her lungs, which the doctor then informed her she could no longer travel. My mom and I traveled to see her, shortly after her diagnoses. We had an unforgettable time, she was so full of life still. I had no worries or concerns that she wouldn’t beat this. But, as time went on, she wasn’t getting better. She asked me to spend Christmas with her in 2012, so my husband and I went to see her and spent three weeks with her. When I was there, I never imagined it would be the last time I saw her, or her last Christmas. She was the same Nana that I’d known all my life. She was socializing, going to Christmas parties with us, and even traveled up to the top of the Protestant Cathedral for the first time in her 72 years of life. I found out I was pregnant just three months later, and she became very sick about the same time. My mom went to Liverpool to be with her. Before she passed away, she told my mom that she knew I would have a little girl. I was only about 14 weeks, so there was no way of knowing at the time, but she had no doubts.
She passed away May 29th, 2013, after a long 18 month battle with breast cancer. In June, we found out that I would indeed be having a little girl. She was right (as she always was). My daughter took her maiden name as a middle name, and we know that Nana Rita would have been smitten with her. We continue to do the Race for the Cure every year to honor her, but also to raise money for the families that still have a chance. We do the race to raise awareness and funding for research so that women and men have a better chance of beating cancer every single time it attacks them, so that they can live long and full lives, and meet their great grandchildren. Team Rita Stanistreet will always be a part of Race for the Cure Tulsa, so that we know we are doing a small part of making this world a better place, and doing it in the best woman’s name: Rita.
-Rita’s only granddaughter, Brionne