Fundraiser for stom­ach can­cer aware­ness

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @afarence on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> In an ef­fort to help pre­serve the mem­ory of her hus­band and to raise aware­ness for the dis­ease that killed him, Re­becca Lukens will host a book sign­ing Nov. 5 at the Ch­ester County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety for her de­ceased hus­band and for­mer his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety pres­i­dent, Robert Lukens.

Robert died from stom­ach can­cer in Au­gust of 2015, af­ter bat­tling the dis­ease since his di­ag­no­sis in July 2013 for a few years. He had been ap­pointed as pres­i­dent of the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety in 2011, a po­si­tion his wife, Re­becca, de­scribed as his “dream job.”

She said the di­ag­no­sis “com­pletely shocked” him and his fam­ily.

The book Re­becca will be sign­ing for Nov. 5 is ti­tled “Man with a Back­pack,” and chron­i­cles the thoughts of Robert start­ing from when he learned of his di­ag­no­sis up un­til shortly be­fore his death. Re­becca picked up where he left off, and wrote the last chap­ter of the book.

“He would write when he couldn’t sleep be­cause of the can­cer,” Re­becca said. “He did not hold back, this is a very raw, real de­scrip­tion of when you have can­cer.”

The book sign­ing will serve as a fundraiser for No Stom­ach for Can­cer, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on sup­port­ing stom­ach can­cer re­search and rais­ing aware­ness, and will take place from 5-8 p.m. Re­becca said she wanted to host the sign­ing in the Novem­ber, since it’s Stom­ach Can­cer Aware­ness Month.

At­ten­dance costs $30 per per­son.

Re­becca and Robert’s brother, Wil Lukens, will both speak at the event. Roger By­ers, the board chair for No Stom­ach for Can­cer, and Naren Aryal, the pub­lisher and CEO of Mas­cot Books, will also speak at the event.

She hopes the book sign­ing and shar­ing her hus­band’s story will draw aware­ness to the dis­ease, and en­cour­age sup­port for those strug­gling with stom­ach can­cer.

The ti­tle “Man with a Back­pack,” is sup­posed to high­light an el­e­ment of Robert’s char­ac­ter. Ac­cord­ing to Re­becca, he was al­ways ready and will­ing to pick up and carry some­one’s back­pack, both phys­i­cally while out hik­ing, and fig­u­ra­tively through life.

“Rob al­ways seemed to take the bur­den from other peo­ple,” Re­becca said. “I truly hope that (this book) brings aware­ness to stom­ach can­cer.”

The book is also a means for Robert to com­mu­ni­cate with his chil­dren, Finn and Abby, who

were 6 and 9 years old at the time of his di­ag­no­sis re­spec­tively.

Ac­cord­ing to Can­cer.net, a lit­tle over 26,000 men and women are es­ti­mated to be di­ag­nosed with stom­ach can­cer in 2016, and of di­ag­nosed, a lit­tle un­der 11,000 will die.

To con­tact Daily Lo­cal News staff writer Adam Farence, email afarence@ dailylocal.com, or call 610-235-2647.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — RE­BECCA LUKENS

“Man with a Back­pack” was mostly writ­ten by Robert Lukens. Af­ter he died, his wife Re­becca fin­ished the book.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mary C. Howse Ele­men­tary sec­ond-grade stu­dent Sam­muel Mor­ris, 7, speaks with West White­land Po­lice De­tec­tive Jeff McCloskey, who rode the school bus Wed­nes­day to speak to the chil­dren about school bus safety as part of Op­er­a­tion “Safe Stop.”

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