Lori-Ann Malloy Raymond used to fight crime; now she’s waging an all-out war against colon cancer.
This Sunday, Lori-Ann, who retired in February with the rank of sergeant after a distinguished 21-year career with the Warwick Police Department, and her son Jake, 4, will lead “Keith’s Walking Warriors” in the fourth annual Colon Cancer Awareness 5K Walk/Run that will begin at 10 a.m. in Warwick City Park.
Registration is at 9 and the 5K will be held rain or shine. Entry fee is $15 for either a walker or runner and, as Lori-Ann said earlier this week, “there will be a lot of fun things to do. We’re having a silent auction, raffles, disc jockey, food and drinks.”
The event has been organized by the Rhode Island Colon Cancer Alliance, based in Warwick.
Keith’s Walking Warriors, meanwhile, will walk the 3.1-mile course in memory of Keith Raymond, who succumbed to a near-two-year battle with colon cancer in May 2010 at the age of 50.
And ever since his tragic passing, Lori-Ann has vowed to keep her husband’s memory alive for the couple’s son Jake, who was only 2 when his father died.
“I want to keep his memory alive,” Lori-Ann said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I want Jake to know how much we loved each other. I want him to learn what a terrible disease it is ... that’s why we’ve involved [him] in these fundraisers.”
Soon after Keith Raymond’s passing, Lori-Ann found out about the Rhode Island Colon Cancer Alliance, which she says is a small group that people need to know more about.
“I walked last year with a few friends in Keith’s memory,” Lori-Ann said. “This year I’ve got about 80 people coming ... they’re all people who knew my husband, people from all walks of my life. It’s really nice to get support from everyone. I’m hoping to have close to 100 people walking Sunday.”
And it’s expected that Jake will lead the way. He’ll do so, Lori-Ann said, wearing a special T-shirt with a picture of Jake on the shoulders of his late father during a family visit to Beavertail Park in Jamestown.
The walk inside City Park Sunday will be much, much easier than the road Lori-Ann and Jake have been forced to take ever since Keith Raymond was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008.
“Keith was diagnosed with cancer only five months after Jake was born,” Lori-Ann explained. “He was a picture of health. In the summer of 2008 we demanded he have a colonoscopy.”
That’s when the family’s life changed – forever.
“They found a huge mass,” Lori-Ann went on, “he was operated on in September 2009 and the doctors took out a 15-inch portion of his colon. Then, he went through six months of chemotherapy and in late April of 2009 Jake turned 1 year old.”
It seemed as though the chemotherapy was working and Keith went to be tested to see how he was actually doing.
“They found the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs,” said Lori-Ann. “He never smoked ... he was a health nut and worked out daily. He took care of himself. Then, he went through an aggressive treatment on his liver ... he was getting high dosages of chemotherapy. Through it all he was strong ... he never complained ... later he went to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and the doctors started using trial medications...”
Unfortunately, those trial meds didn’t work. The cancer kept spreading and, as Lori-Ann said this week, “There was nothing they could do. Keith went through 19 months [of hell] ... he put up with a lot and didn’t complain. He actually said I’m sorry what’s happening to me ... and the cancer took him quickly.”
That’s why Sunday’s 3.1-mile walk will be much easier than the journey Lori-Ann and her son Jake have had to deal with since Keith’s passing.
“I had to make some big decisions,” said Lori-Ann. “Keith and I always intended for me to leave the police department after 20 years. I was going to do real estate and be home with Jake. Now I’m determined to make whatever changes I need to make because I want to be with Jake.”
When she announced her retirement, she said, “The Warwick Police Department was very, very good to me. I can’t say enough about the support they gave me.”
Now, Lori-Ann says, “I appreciate being retired. When Keith and I were working, Jake was being taken care of 40 hours a week at day care. Now I can be with him almost all of the time.”
Keith grew up in Scituate and was later a backhoe operator for the Kent County Water Authority. When the couple was first married, Keith and Lori-Ann lived in Warwick and later moved to their current home in Glocester
Lori-Ann, who grew up in Warwick and later graduated from Cranston East High School before getting her Bachelor of Science Degree at Roger Williams University and obtained a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Salve Regina University, has been forced to become mom and dad for Jake.
“I want to be that mom who’s involved with our son,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of strength from Keith. I want Jake to always remember his father.”
When asked if Jake knows his father has passed, Lori-Ann said, “He knows his daddy is in heaven.”
Jake, who Lori-Ann says “has always loved trains,” sort of shocked her the other day when he said, “Mommy, I want to make a train wings so I can fly up there and see daddy!”
Editor’s Note: Sunday’s 5K (3.1-mile) Run/Walk will be held rain or shine. Runners and walkers will be registered until race time, which is 10 a.m. The event will be held in Warwick City Park. For more information, contact Barbara Joyce at email@example.com.