It’s hard to put an introduction before a profile of Ellen and Dick Britain, parents of Susan, for whom the CRSS Race for Hope is dedicated to. They are two of the bravest and kindest people we know and it’s probably best to “meet” them by way of their own words. Without further adieu…
What is your connection to the Capital region? We grew up in Colonie and began dating during our senior year in high school at Colonie Central High School. We married three years later and after a two year stint away while Dick was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, we returned home and raised our daughters in Colonie. Susan and Amy are both Colonie graduates as well!
Do you remember what your initial thoughts were when we came to you and Dick asking if we could put together the Race for Hope in honor of Susan? First response was surprise! We knew Susan and Dr. Scheid had a special connection, and then we were honored to learn that he had chosen her to dedicate the Race to her memory.
What does this race signify for you and your family? It’s an opportunity each year for Susan’s and our friends and family to remember her in a special way, and at the same time help others cope with some of their challenges during treatment.
To other parent(s) of an adult-child living with a new diagnosis of cancer, is there any advice that you and Dick would recommend to prepare for their journey through treatment? This is a tough one to answer. Everyone deals with life-changing events in their own way, but I would say it’s important to stay positive, accept the support of your family and friends, and try to keep life as normal as possible, which is definitely a challenge, but as someone said to us, cancer isn’t nice, it doesn’t deserve to have your time.
Were there area resources that may not be easy to find, that perhaps could help others in a similar situation that you and Dick discovered while Susan was in treatment? Susan really didn’t encounter difficulty obtaining services for herself, but as she spent many hours in treatment over her four year journey, she became aware that there were others who were not as fortunate in that maybe their insurance didn’t pay for certain medications, or they had trouble keeping up with everyday expenses because they were out of work on disability, or trouble with something as basic as finding rides to and from treatment. She would be pleased to see that through the Race for Hope, Dr. Scheid and Capital Region Special Surgery have been able to help some patients deal with many of those issues.
You wake up on race day and some of the first thoughts that come into your head are: First, we check the weather! So far, we have been fortunate to have sunshine. We like to imagine that Susan has had a hand in helping with that! Then we are anxious to get to the Race, see the great turnout and experience the positive atmosphere of all the runners, walkers and the always energetic volunteers!
Have there been bright moments you’ve experienced by way of the race through the years? And what have been the challenging ones? Race day is always challenging emotionally for us, but once we see everyone there to support us and Team Susan’s Spirit, that is certainly a bright moment.
What do you think Susan might say about how the race has developed over the last four years? We know Susan would be really pleased about the growth of the Race and the money raised to help others inflicted with cancer. Had Susan survived, because of some of the people she met during treatment, she was thinking about switching gears career wise and perhaps training to become a health care technician because she knew firsthand the positive impact caring health professionals can have, and maybe now, through the money raised by the Race for Hope, perhaps at least part of that goal has come true.