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Why I Relay

My work schedule at the paper is Sunday-Thursday, so with my Fridays free I try to find activities that may spark my interest. Last June, I had asked about volunteering the day of Lyon County’s Relay for Life. I had done a Relay many years ago when I first moved to Marshall and wanted to get involved again.

What really motivated me to help at Relay was that I had lost a first cousin, Burt, at the beginning of the year after a struggle with cancer treatments. Not too long after, Burt’s brother Bruce was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. I bought a couple of luminarias for the two. At the time of last year’s Relay, Bruce was still fighting cancer. He lost the battle less than a couple months later in mid-August.

Cancer has affected many people in my life, whether it’s friends or relatives. I know people who are cancer survivors, and I’ve lost relatives and friends to cancer.

As a reporter, I’ve also done a few stories on local residents and their cancer journey — some have served as honorary chairs for Lyon County’s Relay for Life. These stories have touched my heart, and I can’t even imagine what they’ve gone through. Back in 2006, I wrote a story on the honorary chairs for Relay. For that year, there were seven. Linda Madden of Amiret learned she had breast cancer on her 36th wedding anniversary. Melanie Williams of Russell was faced with cancer twice and was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2004. Peggy Bundy of Balaton found a lump in her breast in December 1993 and learned she had stage 3 breast cancer. Tracy Larson of Marshall was only 34 when she learned she had breast cancer back in 1991. In 2004, the Rev. Paul Hadusek was having trouble breathing and his heartbeat was elevated to 150 beats a minute. He learned he had a “shadow” on his right lung.

“My first reaction, like others, was ‘why me?’ “ Hadusek said in the story. “Then I answered ‘why not me?’ I had ministered to so many people with cancer, treated for cancer and died with cancer.”

In 2000, Jim and Henrietta Van Hyfte of Marshall were both diagnosed with cancer — Henrietta found a lump on her breast, and Jim learned he had thyroid cancer.

“The first thing you think is ‘why me?’ “ Henrietta said back in 2006.

“You hear the ‘C word’ and it scares you,” Jim said.

In the story, Henrietta went on to say “As we attend the Relay, we see people who have climbed the hills and mountains that we have. We are not alone in this battle against cancer. When we walk the first lap together every year since 2000, we are both so fortunate and that God has granted us more time, time to spend together and time with our family and friends.”

So earlier this year, I jumped in, full force. I joined the Lyon County Relay for Life board and joined a team, Hunting for a Cure. I’m still learning the ropes when it comes to putting together the event. It’ll mainly take place Friday afternoon and evening on June 21, but there’s a lot that goes into it. There’s logistics, set-up, the luminarias, the silent auction, the opening ceremony, the memory garden, kid’s zone, the survivor, caregiver and community picnic, etc., etc.

But it’s an amazing event — it sure had an impact on me last year, which spurred me into action. According to information from the American Cancer Society, funds raised support cancer patient programs and groundbreaking research that can help save lives. This event also celebrates over 15.5 million cancer survivors nationwide.

So come on out to the Red Baron Arena on Friday and join in the fight against cancer. The event starts at 4:30 with registration and the kid’s zone. There’s the community picnic from 5-6:30 p.m. and the opening ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. Maybe you’ll be inspired like I was last year and want to join a team or form a team.

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