Haxton shares her story of cancer survival at Coaches vs. Cancer games

The West Hancock girls sit on the stage after their victory to listen to AJ Taylor speak about his friend, the late Gary Gjerstad.

Curran McLaughlin | The Leader

Becky Haxton speaks about her five year battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Curran McLaughlin | The Leader

            Friday featured the annual Coaches vs. Cancer fundraisers at the West Hancock basketball games in Britt.

            A bake sale, silent auction and several competitions were set up to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

            Two people spoke in between the girls and boys game that night.

            AJ Taylor, sports announcer for West Hancock games on KHAM 103.1, was the first to speak about late-friend and co-broadcaster Gary Gjerstad.

            Gjerstad, known around the area as a talented pianist who was blind from birth, passed away in September after several long battles with cancer.

            Members of the girls basketball team sitting on the edge of the stage lined up with the desk he and Todd Hammer were perched at for the games.

            With the wall of pink uniforms beside him, he spoke about Gjerstad’s wit, positivity and his uncanny ability to add to a broadcast.

            “When he first came up here, he just wanted to listen to the game a little better,” Taylor recalled. “So we put the headset on him, then all of a sudden you hear him mutter ‘he should have gone inside.’”


Becky Haxton spoke to the crowd from the PA announcer table.

            For five years Haxton has lived with cancer and recently started treatments to combat it.

            She suffers from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer that starts from the lymph nodes in the immune system.

            She now wears a medical mask due to chemotherapy treatment leaving her immune system vulnerable.

            Many kids she sees ask her if she’s contagious when they see the mask.

            “The reason I wear this mask is because others are carrying germs and I can get sick from them,” Haxton said.

            She asked parents with curious children to explain the best they can about matter like hers. 

Read the story in its entirety in the Feb. 6 Leader.