Community turns out in support of woman facing second bouth with cancer

ALTONA As Norma Monty sat at a table in the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall with her husband, Eric, by her side, the two couldnt help but be overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out at a benefit in her honor. The amount of support from the community is unbelievable, said Mrs. Monty. Theres people here that weve met on the road or in the store and weve just said hi to them, said Mr. Monty. You dont really know them, but theyre here. There are some people here that I have no clue who they are. Mrs. Monty spent last Saturday receiving an outpouring of donations, hugs and words of encouragement to aid her in her fight against bile duct cancer. People filled the banquet halls Blue Room, waiting in line to purchase raffle tickets, 50/50 chances and spaghetti dinners. Young children and even some carefree adults got out on the dance floor and grooved to musical entertainment donated by a local DJ service. Despite the reason for their gathering, the mood was upbeat and their mission was clear to help their friend. For Donna Wood, one of the events organizers, the need to throw a benefit for Mrs. Monty was even more special. Norma and I have been best friends for a long time, explained Wood, as both began to choke up with tears. Dont cry, said Wood with a smile. Youre going to make me cry. In addition to being best friends, Mrs. Monty and her husband showed support to Mrs. Wood and her husband, Allen, a few years ago. The Woods lost their home and the majority of their worldly possessions to a fire. The Montys came to their aid, organizing a benefit in of all places the same room of the same banquet hall. They really came through for us, said Wood. Now, were here for them. An initial examination Mrs. Monty received in January at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., eventually led to three biopsies before she was diagnosed with her condition, also known as cholangiocarcinoma. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, bile duct cancer is quite rare, with only approximately 4,600 people in the United States that were expected to develop the disease last year. Bile duct cancer is typically more common in Asia and the Middle East, and more common in men than in women, making Mrs. Montys case of advanced bile duct cancer even more uncommon. However, the 47-year-old Altona woman is a fighter. In July 2005, Mrs. Monty was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lump removed from her breast and was declared cancer-free only to end up facing the challenge once again. The Montys must now play the waiting game. Mrs. Monty just had her first in a series of three chemotherapy treatments. Shell undergo several more weeks of intermittent treatments then return to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for a reevaluation to see if the cancer has shrunk, or at least stopped in growth. While the road ahead may be paved with uncertainty, a positive attitude and the support of her friends and family is all she needs, said Mrs. Monty. Were going to beat this, she said, with a look of determination. Its not something were going to do, its something we have to do. Knowing her best friend, even two bouts with cancer cant keep her down, said Mrs. Wood. Shes a tough Altona woman. Those who were unable to attend but wish to make a donation or send cards to Mrs. Monty may mail them to her at 445 Woods Falls Road, Altona N.Y. 12910.

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