“This is what I do!” Priscilla Snider says with a laugh as she flips open one of her three cell phones and answers it. The call she is taking is one of the many she fields each day. In this case it’s about the upcoming Relay for Life event coming up on June 2. Priscilla has been involved with the Relay for Life event since 1997, but this year has special meaning for her. Just last February she was diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. “It’s nothing you ask for,” she says of her affliction. But if you think that it might slow her down, you would be mistaken; Priscilla has maintained her go-go energy and infectious laugh. She is married to her husband Rob and has two kids, Heather 23 years old and James 19, a senior at ECS.
About six months ago she began to notice she was having trouble swallowing, and was wasn’t able to finish meals. She was eating about the same quantity of food but was losing weight. An endoscope exam reveled that she had a tumor in her throat that had wrapped around her esophagus and closed it down to less than the size of a dime. Although she had been scheduled for additional tests, her doctor called and asked her to start treatment the next day. It turned out the tumor was malignant, but the good news was that it had not yet spread into any of the neighboring tissues. She began treatment through Roswell Park on March 5th and has been receiving both radiation and chemotherapy. She went through the treatments with her usual enthusiasm, “I just marveled at the machines, and the technology and knowledge that lead to these treatments,” and adds she has had only slight hair loss and no nausea. “We’ve just been able to keep going” she adds with a laugh. Surgery is scheduled for early June, but her doctor agreed to hold off until after the Relay.
Keep going is exactly what she has been doing through her 28 days of treatment. She is a case worker for “my kids” (as she calls them) who are in the county juvenile justice system. This can mean anything from giving kids rides to and from court, counseling, fitting youths with electronic monitors, and evaluating special needs; all with the goal of keeping the kids in their homes and out of jail. Priscilla tells me about one young man who needed some special attention. She helped him through a tough family situation and was able to keep him out of further trouble with the law. Though she hadn’t seen him for some time, he called her on Mothers Day to thank her for her help. As we talk she is interrupted by yet another phone call about one of her kids. She says it’s amazing the difference can be made in the life of a teenager “when somebody had treated them with respect.”
This year is the first year she will be serving as Co-Chair of the Relay for Life. Priscilla once joked that she wanted someday to wear the special purple T-shirt worn by cancer survivors. This year she will proudly don the shirt as she walks the special lap that those who are dealing with, or have survived cancer take on the track. You can bet, she’ll accompanied by a laugh and and smile, and all three cell phones.