When Yohannes Gebreysus was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his daughter Absera Gebreysus was one of his biggest supporters. When he started going to support groups and educational programs at Hope Connections for Cancer Support, she learned right along with him.
On Nov. 10, as Yohannes celebrated just over five years of living cancer free, 11-year-old Absera celebrated with him as they both took part in the Candy Cane City 5K in Chevy Chase.
“She always participates,” Yohannes said. “She is one of my supporters, actually, either at home or anything we do with Hope Connections. She is always with me.”
Yohannes lives in Washington, D.C., and Absera lives in Rockville with her mother.
Yohannes and Absera were part of “Team Hope,” 60 people who used the race as an opportunity to raise money for Hope Connections. The Bethesda organization offers free support groups, nutrition classes, stress-relieving workshops and other resources for people fighting cancer and their loved ones. Yohannes has been going to a support group at Hope Connections for about three years.
“After the chemo, surgery [and] radiation, the next step to healing is support,” he said.
Most of the members of Yohannes’ group have been coming for several years, and he said they help each other get through cancer treatment as well as the fear that, for those in remission, the cancer will return.
While Yohannes walked further back in the 5k with the rest of Team Hope, Absera finished ahead of him, earning a medal.
“I look forward to seeing her growing,” Yohannes said. “That is my hope — to see her graduating.”