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