The ambassadors for the 2009 Mills County Relay For Life share a common bond.
Vicki Bird, Marcia Keith and Sid Williams have found out first-hand how formidable of a foe cancer can be. They are all at different stages of overcoming a disease that claims over 500,000 lives every year. Latest statistics show that one out of every four Americans will be diagnosed with cancer sometime during their lifetime.
“When you see the survivors at the Relay For Life, it reminds you of how many people have been affected,” Bird said.
Bird has participated in the Relay For Life numerous times, but the event has extra meaning for her this year as she battles breast cancer. Since being diagnosed on Sept. 11, Bird has undergone three surgeries and completed a series of radiation treatments. The last eight months have been overwhelming at times, but Bird has maintained a positive outlook while taking on the disease. She’s looking forward to serving as an ambassador at Saturday’s relay, an event that traditionally receives community-wide support.
“I’m very honored,” Bird said. “It (relay) is something the whole community comes together for.”
Keith said she, too, is ‘honored” to serve as an ambassador. Her mother, Alene, served as a Relay For Life ambassador in 2000, just weeks before she died. Keith has walked in the relay with the “Keith Klan” for 10 years. Over the past decade, the Keith Klan has raised close to $70,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“I think the Relay For Life is great because it not only raises money and causes awareness, but it also allows the community to come together for a common goal,” said Keith.
Keith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 but said she is now “doing fine.”
Williams, a Malvern resident and Glenwood Community High School graduate, learned he had cancer last January.
“I had a pain in my stomach and they ended up taking my appendix,” Williams said. “They found cancer in my appendix. Only about one of 2,000 people have cancer in their appendix.”
In addition to his appendix, cancer was also found in one of Williams’ lymph nodes. He underwent surgery and is in the process of receiving chemotherapy treatments.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” Williams said. “They caught it early enough.”
Bird, Keith and Williams will be among hundreds of Mills County-area residents taking part in this weekend’s relay. The fundraiser for the American Cancer Society begins at Ram Memorial Field in Glenwood on Saturday at 4 p.m. and ends Sunday at 9 a.m,