Different stages, same determination; Cindy Powell, Jaxon Gorman named Relay for Life ambassadors

Published 10:52 am Friday, July 22, 2016

Although the duo may be in different phases of their fight against cancer, Cindy Powell and Jaxon Gorman both represent the importance of staying strong and determined in tough times.

Powell and Jaxon will be this year’s honorary chairs of the Mower County Relay for Life this Saturday at the Mower County Fairgrounds, starting at 2 p.m.

“I feel very honored,” Powell said of being named ambassador.

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Powell, 56, was 44-years-old when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, which came as a shock because she had no family history of the disease.

“I was very shocked,” she said. “I was otherwise healthy in every way.”

She didn’t let the news keep her down, however. With an optimistic and fighting attitude, she had a lumpectomy surgery and six weeks of radiation.

“I was determined that this was not going to get to me,”she said. “I was going to fight this in every way, and I did.”

Thanks to help from the staff at Mayo Clinic’s radiation department in Albert Lea and the support of friends and family, Powell has been cancer-free for 11 years.

Powell emphasizes the importance of mammograms for women, which is how she discovered she had cancer.

“I highly preach mammograms to everyone,” she said.

Jaxon Gorman, 8, poses with a gorilla statue. Gorman is one of the Mower County Relay for Life honorary chairs this year.  Photo provided

Jaxon Gorman, 8, poses with a gorilla statue. Gorman is one of the Mower County Relay for Life honorary chairs this year.
Photo provided

Looking forward to this Saturday, Powell is excited to share the ambassador position with Jaxon.

“He is such a wonderful kid, so encouraging,” she said. “He’s fighting this and not letting it get him down.”

Jaxon, 8, was diagnosed in February with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Jaxon’s mom, Terra Gorman, made many trips to the doctor this fall with her son because she knew something wasn’t right.

“As a mother, you know your child and to be persistent,” Gorman said. “I continually took him into the doctor because I knew something was wrong.”

What was originally thought to just be muscle pains from wrestling turned out to be a cancerous tumor in Jaxon’s hip, which left him in a wheelchair for a while after he was diagnosed.

“I was in disbelief, I was numb,” Gorman said about first hearing the news.

He recently finished 30 rounds of radiation and has been doing chemotherapy since. While this takes a toll physically, Jaxon remains optimistic and keeps his spirits high.

“He’s a little warrior,” Gorman said.

Since being chosen as one of Relay for Life’s ambassadors, Jaxon has fundraised several hundred dollars for the organization and has a full support system behind him, who call themselves “Team Jaxon.” Gorman had shirts made up and many children in his class got involved as well. Even the Austin Bruins helped raise money to support a young fan.

“[The support] is everywhere,” Gorman said. “Everyone is showing they care.”

About 19 teams are signed up to participate in the Mower County Relay for Life. There will be events throughout Saturday, including live music, food and a car show. The opening ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. at the Mower County Fairgrounds. For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/mowercountymn.