Got Courage?

Meet some AQHA folks who are horseback riding toward a cure.

Meet some AQHA folks who are horseback riding toward a cure.

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Mary Roes isn’t letting cancer keep her from showing her American Quarter Horses. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Mary Roes, AQHA exhibitor and Region Two committee member, hasn’t let cancer keep her down.

In the midst of planning for the 2012 Region Two Championship, the show committee was hit by an unexpected blow – two of its members were diagnosed with cancer. Mary Roes, treasurer, learned about her breast cancer early in 2012; and Todd Iszler, the show’s co-chairman, found out he faced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early summer.

It made the committee members think of other regional exhibitors and volunteers who’d also faced cancer in some form, and they thought it was time the Region Two honored them. To that end, the show held a “Ride for the Cure” class September 22.

For a $10 entry donation, people could ride in memory or honor of a loved one, or to share their own battle with the disease. The proceeds from the class, along with the sale of $5 pins, went toward cancer research. There were also several silent auction fundraisers at the show to benefit specific cancer fighters.

The American Quarter Horse Journal features stories of bravery and courage from the American Quarter Horse industry to light, bringing its readers the greatest events and introducing them to legendary people and horses.

Here, Mary shares how her horse kept her motivated.

At the end of March 2012, she had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, followed by intensive chemotherapy. She was worn out and thought it might be a good idea to sell her halter horse, Justa Shady Guy.

Instead, she gathered her strength and went to a horse show in Broken Bow, Nebraska. And then to another one in Rapid City, South Dakota. She found it too hard to show both halter in the morning and her reiner, Chex Spinnin Smoke, in the evening, so she just did what she could.

“I had to have something that motivated me beyond sitting there feeling sorry for myself,” Mary says.

Mary and her husband, Richard, farm in Hemingford, Nebraska. Doctors discovered her cancer after a routine mammogram and a follow-up MRI. On top of her struggles through treatment, her father passed away unexpectedly just two weeks after she finished chemotherapy.

“It’s been a year,” Mary says, “but we caught the cancer early. My prognosis is good.”

She adds, “Throughout all of this, I’ve got wonderful friends, and my trainer (Dean Johnson) is super. It teaches you to just keep going and appreciate things more, to have a little more fun in your life and not take it so serious.”

Mary serves on the Region Two Championship Committee as treasurer, helping out with sponsorships, getting ring stewards, etc. She decided to volunteer after showing at the first Region Two, and seeing how much it meant for people to come to the event.

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Her horse show friends have been an inspiration to her.

“Everywhere you turn, there are so many people who’ve been affected by cancer,” she says. “(Horse show photographer) Larry (Larson) was an inspiration. He told me he never missed a day of work. Rosie (Elmore) has just had a good outlook on things.

“They just kept themselves going. I looked at them and said, ‘They faced this with style and grace. I can do it, too.’ ”

6 thoughts on “Got Courage?”

  1. Hi Mary,

    I too am a cancer survivor. I have melanoma(skin cancer). I too
    caught it in time. I noticed a spot growing and changing color, I
    went to my Dermatologist and he took a scraping of it and it came back positive, I then went to Eugene, Or., for a 3 hr. surgery. I am going into hopefully my 3rd yr. of remission. My Quarter Horse IM KEEN ON CASH, has been my courage, I started back to riding last year. He has a great and loving attitude and disposition. So keep up the good work and always remember there are lots of us that are survivors and horse therapy. I am going on 71 yrs., and riding my Dream my Horse.

  2. Hi Janet,
    Thanks for sharing your story! And congratulations on three years of remission! It’s so neat to hear how Quarter Horses are helping so many people!
    All the best!
    Holly
    America’s Horse

  3. Thanks for sharing my husband Joe has myleodysplastic syndrome a form of leukemia. Joe had a stem cell transplant in 2011 but things started falling apart in October this year and he just received lymphocytes to help get him back in remission. I am so happy that the association started this. I have a horse that I wanted to put into the older horse registration but I think it is over and I missed while being involved with Joe’s treatments the end of 2012. Sadly I am selling my horses since Joe can’t be around barnyard animals. It breaks my heart since I have loved them so dearly but his life is worth so much more. Please keep this going it really helped lift my morning when I read this.

    I will miss my quarter horses but totaly support both you and Todd in your challenges and journey. Todd has an illness that I am very familiar with since Joe’s is very similisr. Good luck to both of you!

  4. Thanks for sharing my husband Joe has myleodysplastic syndrome a form of leukemia. Joe had a stem cell transplant in 2011 but things started falling apart in October this year and he just received lymphocytes to help get him back in remission. I am so happy that the association started this. I have a horse that I wanted to put into the older horse registration but I think it is over and I missed while being involved with Joe’s treatments the end of 2012. Sadly I am selling my horses since Joe can’t be around barnyard animals. It breaks my heart since I have loved them so dearly but his life is worth so much more. Please keep this going it really helped lift my morning when I read this.

    I will miss my quarter horses but totaly support both you and Todd in your challenges and journey. Todd has an illness that I am very familiar with since Joe’s is very similiar. Good luck to both of you!

  5. I’m a cancer survior too having non-hodgkin lymphoma and never missed a day of work throughout the treatment been free 7 yrs. my horses have been everything to me.

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