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Why I Relay For Life

Cancer survivor tells her story
By: Amy Jefferson Special to The News Messenger
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– Editors’ note: Relay for Life will be held in Lincoln on May 17. During the weeks preceding the event, the News Messenger will be running stories written by cancer survivors. I am a 39-year-old cancer survivor. Four years ago after having six months of abdominal pain and several misdiagnoses, I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor, a rare form of abdominal cancer. Because it is so rare, there has not been much research and had I been diagnosed four years sooner, they would have not had a treatment for me. On that life-changing day, here I was, 35, thinking I’m too young, there are so many things I wanted to do, what is going to happen to my family ... as the doctor is telling me there is no cure ... you are always going to be on chemo ... my brain is foggy. Those first few weeks I walked around thinking ... it is over ... I have cancer and that’s all there is ... And then I decided I am not going to be a victim, I am going to be a survivor. Three weeks later I had surgery, three weeks after that I started chemo and here I am today, still on chemo and a survivor. It is events like the Relay For Life that have helped me survive. These events raise the money to help with the research that has found one more drug that may continue to keep me alive, or the research that may find a cure or treatment for our loved ones. More importantly, these events keep hope alive. Hope that if one more person survives, then maybe there is hope for me, too. As we look around, we have more survivors this year than last year. The more we participate in events like these, the better chance anyone diagnosed with cancer has to survive. Because the type of chemo I take, I didn’t go through the stereotypical chemo symptoms, which has allowed me to not have to explain to most people that I have cancer. I don’t tell many people I have cancer because I don’t want their pity. I don’t want them to feel sorry for me. Which sounds like a contradiction because I am very proud to be a survivor. Proud that I am fighting this battle and winning. As a survivor I would like to thank all the generous people who will be participating and supporting Lincoln’s third annual Relay For Life. When I was first diagnosed, my mom bought a magnet with two pigs in a basket, saying we are in this together. With cancer, you quickly realize that it touches everyone you know on some level. As you look around, we are all in this fight together ... we have all had someone in our lives fight the battle or lose the battle to cancer. I personally have lost friends and family to the disease. I am lucky to be a survivor. I am looking forward to being with you on May 17 as we again rally this generous Lincoln community’s support for the ongoing battle against cancer. For additional information on the Relay, call Christina Breiner at 645-5298, e-mail cbreiner@ci.lincoln.ca.us or go online at www.events.cancer.org/rfllincolnca.