The Port Arthur News
Lana Parker is ready to face cancer head-on.
The Port Neches-Groves ISD school board member and retired teacher from Taft Elementary School isn’t on the journey alone though. She has plenty of friends to help her on her path and show their support.
Parker, entering her third round of chemotherapy for breast cancer, recently began losing her hair and decided to cut to the chase and shave her head.
Her friends —PN-GISD Trustee Rodney Balsamo, PN-GISD Assistant Superintendent Mike Gonzales and former student Evan Stevens were alongside Parker for a shaving party at Second Glance salon in Groves on Saturday.
Parker’s “cheer squad” consisting of lifelong friends, teachers and family, offered encouraging words and humorous comments during the shearing. Parker’s husband, Ruelle, shaved his head the prior day in support of his wife.
Stylists Laura Gunter and Natalie Hebert performed the hair cutting.
And in the end there were four smiling bald friends laughing together as they posed for photos.
“When they offered to do this, it makes you realize you have really good friends,” Parker said.
Stevens, a junior at Port Neches-Groves High School, was a student of Parker’s back in the third grade. When he learned of her cancer, he knew immediately he wanted to do something special for her, he said.
Balsamo was also eager to show his support for his friend and fellow school board trustee.
“When I talked to Lana and she said she was going to get her hair cut, I told her from the very beginning I’d do anything to help support her,” Balsamo, who was wearing a Relay For Life T-shirt, said.
Gonzales, who is in his third year with the district, was pleased to have the opportunity to support her, he said.
The support is appreciated, she said. She receives texts and cards daily in the mail offering support and prayers.
Parker is scheduled to undergo chemo for six months then recuperate for about six weeks before surgery and radiation treatments. Her cancer was found during a mammogram and she advises women to get checked and get a mammogram.
Barbara Damuth, Parker’s childhood friend and a fellow teacher, is ready to assist her friend.
“We all love Lana,” Damuth said. “We will walk this journey with her until the end and it’s all good.”
Jesse Puente and his wife Christina were also on hand during the shaving party. Christina is a teacher at Taft and Jesse is has been undergoing treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The couple know the importance of a good support system first-hand.
“We’ve been there,” Jesse Puente said. “The main thing is support and to know there are people walking this road with you and you’re not by yourself.”