Through football and faith, WNY woman gets help in her fight against cancer

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As people continue to raise money for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center through Ride for Roswell this month, one woman is getting some extra help from a former Buffalo Bill.

For Mary Hayward and her sister Patricia Bax, these Bills jerseys are near and dear to their hearts.

“He has a heart full of Buffalove,” said Patricia Bax.

Not only are they signed by #57 himself , recently retired Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander, they’re also a constant reminder.

Through football and faith, Alexander and the ‘Bills Mafia Sisters,’ as he calls them, have developed a friendship.

Mary says while he fought on the field for a win, she fights everyday.

“The first thing I thought of was well how long do I have to live? It’s pretty scary,” said Mary Hayward.

Mary was diagnosed with ovarian cancer days before Christmas in 2016. For two years, she did a clinical trial for immunotherapy drugs.

“I was able to be on that trial for awhile and give hope to other people because now they’re using those medications to help other people that have to move on to a different form of treatment,” said Hayward.

“Mary herself is so inspirational, overcoming ovarian cancer you know fighting every single day and even doing more than that serving other people while she’s fighting her own battle is,” said Lorenzo Alexander.

Alexander lost a good friend to ovarian cancer.

After the sisters met him through his bowling tournament, they bonded.

“He wants to support Buffalo, western New York in any way he can,” said Bax.

So as many people, including Mary’s family, are riding for Roswell this month — Alexander has joined their team. He’s riding 57 miles all the way from Arizona in support of Mary.

“I also have my daughter here you know baking cookies and making bracelets for cancer as well and so she’s an inspirational. So I think both of those things were kind of tugging at me and I decided I had time and I love riding,” said Alexander.

“He inspires us to not just focus on ourselves ut to step outside of ourselves and inspire others by our actions,” said Bax.

But Alexander says it’s people like mary who inspire him.

“She’s really someone I kind of look towards for that strength and that power and just that mindset when things are going bad, that I still serve, I’ve been put on this earth to impact people regardless of whatever my immediate circumstances may be,” said Alexander.

Mary says she’s grateful for the friendship and she says it’s that support that helps her along her ride and so many others.

“Whether it’s financially, or spiritually or emotionally to support people because we need the hope, we definitely need the hope that’s what drives us to keep fighting,” said Hayward.

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