Honorary chairs say fear of the unknown toughest part of cancer

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Minutes after regaining consciousness, one thought ran through Russell Muffley’s head — had his surgery been successful? The answer he had been hoping for wasn’t what he heard.

“It was the lowest point. I waited and waited and waited for the doctor to come in and then he did. He said the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes,” said Muffley, a Clovis funeral home owner who has been battling cancer for four years.

Sarah Zufelt, general manager of High Plains Harley Davidson, experienced a similar moment when she was forced to tell her family she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was hard to tell Fred (her husband),” said Zufelt as her foot twirled around in circles, “because of the fear of the unknown. I knew he would say ‘I wish it were me instead of you.’ And my dad because — no matter what age you are, you’re always daddy’s little girl.”

Zufelt and Muffley will join supporters May 6-7 at Ned Houk Park as 2005 honorary chairs of the Curry County Relay for Life.

Honorary chairs are chosen for their roles in the community and their dedication to fighting cancer. Nominations are cast anonymously. Friday, Zufelt and Muffley will be introduced following the luminaria service. Both have tentative plans to share survival stories.

“Anybody who is willing to share their story I think makes a great honorary member,” said Dorothy Nelson, community relationship manager for the American Cancer Society.

Zufelt, 31, and Muffley, 58, although at different stages in their battle with cancer, said, above all, it is important to maintain a positive outlook when fighting cancer.

“I’m walking, talking, living, breathing proof that being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean you will die,” said Muffley who places his hope in a hormone therapy regimen that will end in two years.

With a smile, Zufelt, who was diagnosed with breast cancer on Valentine’s Day and has only recently begun chemotherapy treatments, compared her struggle with cancer to shoes.

“I’m kind of known among my friends as having a shoe thing — I always say a girl can do anything in the right pair of shoes,” said Zufelt, wearing a defiant crimson hat and bright white sneakers.