Lily’s goes ‘All Out for April’ May 22 Fundraiser to benefit local mother battling cancer

By on May 8, 2013



, Staff Writer

Bill and April Hankinson with their grandson Adrian.

It takes a village to raise a child, or so the saying goes. And for a local mother of five, it takes a village to fight cancer.

Forty-year-old April Hankinson, of Ephrata, was diagnosed three months ago with colorectal cancer, which was determined to be attached to her uterus. The warning signs – weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness – were originally attributed to two auto-immune disorders she’d been discovered to have.

"I’m trying to still work, and trying to still be a mom and a grandma," said Hankinson. "It’s not easy. The journey’s been quite an experience. I’m very lucky, as far as work and friends and family that have been supporting me."

Having worked in the hospitality industry for several years, Hankinson said her attitude toward serving others is to view them as her family. She said the support she’s received from the community since starting treatment has proven that her "family" is just that.

"I just don’t know what I would do without everybody right now," she said. "That’s really been keeping me going."

She recently completed seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy (complete with nausea and hair loss, two side effects commonly associated with this type of treatment) at Lankenau Medical Center near Philadelphia with the goal of shrinking the tumor intertwined in her colon, rectum and uterus.

"I’m still trying to maintain my dignity, I guess," she said.

Come mid-July, she’ll undergo surgery to remove the tumor, followed by six to 12 months of intravenous (IV) chemotherapy.

To offset some of the medical expenses incurred by Hankinson’s treatments, her co-workers at Lily’s on Main decided to host a fundraiser to benefit her family. The event will take place May 22 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with 25 percent of proceeds from restaurant and movie sales being donated to Hankinson.

"The benefit is more than I could ever ask for," said Hankinson. "I definitely have a lot of angels in my life right now."

Owner of Lily’s on Main, Steve Brown, said the event will feature gift basket auctions, and servers plan to contribute a portion of their gratuities toward the fundraising total.

"It could be as simple as going to the movies," said Brown of how the community can help.

Another benefit was held a few weeks ago in Coatesville – where Hankinson was born and raised – which yielded a couple thousand dollars. Friends and strangers alike have been supporting Hankinson in other ways, providing meals once a week and offering rides to and from treatment appointments.

"How do you say thank you?" she said. "I don’t even know where to begin."

Hankinson said Highland Elementary, the school her youngest daughter, a third grader, attends, has been particularly accommodating of her family’s situation.

"That’s a lot to take in and try to understand at her age," said Hankinson.

This outpouring of support has been overwhelming to Hankinson, who said she’s accustomed to serving others.

"I guess it’s just my turn now," she said with a laugh. "I’m not a good receiver."

Although she faces challenges in the immediate future, Hankinson looks forward to becoming a giver once again.

"When I’m finished, I really think I’m going to be volunteering my time," she said. "(I’ll) help (others) fight their battle, because fighting it alone has got to be awful."

More BENEFIT, page A17

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