Friends show support for woman with cancer

By Chandler Ochoa
Derby Informer – March 1, 2017

Photo by Barney Tull. Click on photo to view full-size.

Photo by Barney Tull. Click on photo to view full-size.

Karen MacGregor thought she was getting a massage, so she made cupcakes for the massage therapist.

When her daughter pulled into the parking lot of the old Derby Antique Market, MacGregor became confused. When her husband got out of the car, she told him they were going to be late for the massage.

As familiar faces started exiting cars parked nearby and a bright pink firetruck appeared from behind the building, tears streamed down MacGregor’s face.

Friends that she had made while living in Derby over the years surrounded her.

Five men with pink hats and uniforms exited the firetruck. They each gave MacGregor a hug and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

They were members of the Pink Heals, Inc. Wichita chapter, a national organization that supports and encourages people diagnosed with cancer.

“I couldn’t believe that anybody would do that for me,” MacGregor said.

On Dec. 8, MacGregor was diagnosed with breast cancer. The week before she had undergone a multitude of tests and procedures.

“I was in a pretty low place when they came,” she said.

Survivors and fighters of cancer can write on the truck. MacGregor climbed to the highest spot, “closest to heaven,” to write her message.

“Let the journey begin,” she wrote. “I need to win.”

MacGregor’s daughter is getting married in three months, and MacGregor said she needs to be here to spoil her future grandchildren.

MacGregor had friends show up from when she worked for the school district, the CPA office where she works now, sorority sisters and the Derby Dolphin Swim Team.

“She thought she was invisible,” said longtime friend Tami English. In the past, English said MacGregor had been there for her when she needed it.

Kelly Harrison, Leslie Ellison and English organized the event for MacGregor.

“I don’t think people realize how many people care about them,” Harrison said. “This was a way to let Karen know that we are here walking through this with her.”

Harrison called the leader of the Pink Heals Wichita chapter, Richard Janne, Friday afternoon to see when they could come visit. He said he could come by on Sunday, and MacGregor’s friends started making calls to other friends and family to plan the surprise.

Pink Heals has 37 chapters across the United States, whose volunteers are made up of retired firefighters.

Janne started the Wichita chapter with his wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. The truck, named after his wife, Nicki, was donated to the chapter by the Lawrence Fire Department. Most of the Wichita members are retired firefighters from the Sedgwick County Fire Department.

“They really made a difference to me and made me feel honored, special and important,” MacGregor said.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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