Relay attacks cancer from every angle

Honorary Relay Ambassador Christine Atwell and family lead the Survivor's Lap at the 2019 Hancock County Relay for Life fund-raiser for the Amercan Cancer Society. The 21st annual Relay was held  at Garner, Friday, June 21. Cancer survivors and care givers were accompanied the sound of bagpipes played by Ken Wind of Algona.

Rebecca Peter | The Leader

GARNER – “Fighting every cancer every day” was the theme of the 21st annual Hancock County Relay for Life at Garner. Fifteen teams raised over $52,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“Relay for Life began in 1985, but today it is more than just a fund-raiser. It’s about us – communities coming together to support each other and the work of the American Cancer Society,” said Linda Webner, event leader for Hancock County.

 “We’re all here to put an end to cancer by ‘fighting every cancer every day.’ That’s exactly what the American Cancer Society does. They don’t focus on one type of cancer, but on all kinds cancers.”

2019 Honorary Relay Ambassador Christine Atwell of Garner was the keynote speaker. Atwell was diagnosed 20 years ago with Stage 3 breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy followed by chemo and radiation therapy.

In February of 2012, the cancer returned. Christine was experiencing pain in her hip area. A scan revealed that the cancer had returned – this time in her pelvic bone. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body. There is no cure – only trying to control it.

“Will this be my last Valentine’s Day?” were some of the thoughts racing through her mind at that time.

She continues to work with doctors at Mayo Clinic. Her treatment plan for metastatic breast cancer varies. A certain treatment will only work for about six months before it has to be changed. Currently her treatment includes taking the drug Verzenio.

Atwell appreciates the support services and research by the American Cancer Society.

“If it wasn’t for the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life, I would not be here today, “ she said. 

Read the complete story in the June 26 Leader.