Hazen High School wrestlers fundraiser takes down cancer

January 31, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Rodney Magana, Hazen High School wrestling coach Rory Magana’s father, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2010, and died from the disease just eight months later, in June.

In 2013, an estimated 45,220 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease that is expected to claim more than 38,000 lives in the coming year.

By Rob NicholsHazen High School wrestlers and coaches gather for a group photo after competing in the Taking Down Pancreatic Cancer event to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

By Rob Nichols
Hazen High School wrestlers and coaches gather for a group photo after competing in the Taking Down Pancreatic Cancer event to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

The fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, it has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. About 74 percent of patients will die within the first year of diagnosis and 94 percent will die within five years, according to the American Cancer Society.

The survival rate is so low for the disease because a mechanism for early detection of the cancer is not yet available. That’s where research and funding are critical, something that the Magana family knows all too well.

So, for the third year, the Hazen coach organized Taking Down Pancreatic Cancer, a special opportunity to raise funds and increase awareness of the disease at a Jan. 11 Hazen wrestling match. Rory’s alma mater, Oak Harbor High School, as well as Lynwood and Highline high schools participated in the match.

This year’s event netted about $1,500 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network through the sale of T-shirts, raffles and a bake sale.

Taking Down Pancreatic Cancer has become a family affair for the Maganas, with Rory’s mother, brother and wife all on hand to honor Rodney’s memory.

“We are very proud of this event,” Rory’s mother, Susie Magana said. “Rodney would be so proud. I’m sure he looks down on us every time we do this.”

While Rory’s father never wrestled in high school, he was always a fan of the sport, especially when his sons began competing. When Rodney was diagnosed in 2010, Rory nearly gave up coaching to go home and help out, but his father wouldn’t have it, and encouraged his son to continue coaching the sport he loved.

“The first year we had the event was the year that my dad was sick, so he sat on the sideline with us and he got to sit in the good seats with us, so you know, it’s kind of a memorial to my dad and kind of a way to honor him,” Rory said.

The event also offered the Hazen wrestlers another opportunity to compete, and even though the results were not what they hoped, dropping matches to Oak Harbor and Lynwood. However, the chance to contribute to such a worthy cause and support their coach was important to the team, Rory said.

“They’re always pretty excited to wrestle for a good cause and this year was no different,” Rory said. “I think a lot of them feel honored to participate in such a cool event.”

The Magana family hopes to expand the event in the coming years, but as it stands now, Susie Magana said she is proud of the initiative that her son has taken to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer.

“This is Rory’s way of making it better for what we went through, and hoping that somebody else has a better chance than we had,” she said.


On the web

Learn more about pancreatic cancer at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s website, www.pancan.org.

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