By LeAnne Taylor, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is coming up in September. In less than 8 weeks, Race for the Cure participants will gather to raise money in the fight against breast cancer.
This year's honorary chair is racing to honor the memory of his wife, who died just a year ago.
Les Diven loves playing with his grandchildren. They call him "Poppy". This used to be time he'd share with his wife Jan, but she died after a fierce battle with breast cancer.
"We always had a great marriage and I would say over the years it got better, just blossomed great relationship. When she got breast cancer it drew us that much closer," said Les Diven.
The high school sweethearts married young, started a family and began their life together for better or worse. It was May 2003 Jan was first diagnosed.
"Probably fear of the unknown was the biggest issue. Just not knowing what's next, where do we go from her. We knew it needed to be addressed and taken care of. But a lot of fear," said Les Diven.
Jan had surgery and eventually had both breasts removed. She underwent chemotherapy and lost her hair but things were looking up.
Then the news came that the cancer was back and had spread to her liver.
"You know, LeAnne, I think it made her stronger. I think it made her fight that much more. She still had that will to live. Her grandkids meant everything to her and I think she wanted to be around for them obviously," Les Divan said.
Jan continued to fight but ultimately the cancer was too much and she died July 2008.
In September, to honor Jan, her daughter Kristen got a few friends together to be a part of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
"Everyone I emailed they emailed out and it just formed a huge team that we thought it was just going to start with the seven of us and then we thought let's have t-shirts made and then let's wear the do rags. It got me through big time," said Kristen Wilson, Jan's daughter.
Les hopes this year's race will be a record breaker. He and his family will be leading the charge. He says it's what his wife would have wanted.
"A lot of dark times, but the last month it seems like I've come around and I'm doing better you know. I think of her everyday and I sure miss her, she helps inspire me," said Les Diven.
Les and his daughter and their family will serve as the honorary race chairs for this year's Race for the Cure and they've already started recruited for their team, Jan's Gang.
You can form a team as well; the race is Saturday September 19 at the CityPlex Towers at 81st and Lewis. There is a timed 5K-race, an untimed walk and run and a 1 mile fun run.