During a past Quad County ReLay For Life event in Philip, luminaries, representing survivors, those who have fallen and care givers, lined the path walked by individuals and teams.

Relay For Life preparation well underway

The annual Quad County Relay For Life event, Sept. 12, in Philip, has been under preparation since the conclusion of last year’s event.
Though more teams are still being put together by captains, 10 are already working on fundraising before the big night. Other groups, organizations, businesses and individuals are also gearing up for the event.
Philip area teams include the FNB Cowpokes Kickin’ Cancer headed by Val Schulz, Lady Bugs headed by Kay Ainslie, Cowboy Up For a Cure headed by Val Oldenberg, and Cowgirls Cookin’ Up a Cure headed by Jeannine Gabriel.
Wall area teams include Inspire the Cure headed by Heather Schuller, Town N Country Frogs headed by Jody Bielmaier, FI Bees headed by Kellie Nixon, and West River Lightning Bugs headed by Jeannie Smith.
The Midland team is the Slam Dunkers headed by Pat Foley. The Milesville On a Mission team is headed by Marlis Doud. Cindy Wilmarth is gathering volunteers for Kadoka support, and Heather Olney is heading Team OK for Kadoka.
The first Quad County Relay For Life was held in 2003. Since then, the all-night affair has been reduced to a more compact and manageable evening starting at 6:00 and going to midnight.
Before the various laps, honorees, speakers and entertainment, survivor registration begins at 4:00 p.m. Though some people who have fought cancer are reluctant to let too many others in on their personal fight, many attend the Relay For Life event. Those known survivors, well over 200 from this area, have been individually invited. Others survivors are invited to come as either survivors or as supporters.
One care giver for a person who fought cancer is Esther Oldenberg, whose son, now 32 years old, had bone cancer when he was in sixth grade. “The battle is 75 percent mental. You have to set your mind before your body can get better,” said Oldenberg. “John went outside, screamed once, came back inside and said let’s get to beating this.” His was a 10-year battle. “He might not have felt good, but we would try to do something normal when we were out of the hospital,” explained Oldenberg. “Maybe not able to do it for an hour, but something normal, zoo, walking, riding horse, watching a ball game, not laying in a bed.” John, his family and his classmates would do a diligent job of washing their hands, and John would stay home if any of his classmates had a cold.
Heather Olney is a breast cancer survivor. Her battle started in 2010. She was declared cancer free after mastectomy surgery was done to take out the tumors, 37 rounds of radiation treatment, reconstructive surgery, and four months of physical therapy. Recently, in Nov. 2014, Olney was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, directly caused by the amount of earlier radiation treatments.
“I would tell someone to be sure to educate themselves – Internet, other people with cancer,” said Olney. “I would definitely say to reach out to other people for help. Oftentimes, I think you don’t want to bother other people, but you shouldn’t drive, you are on medication, you are experiencing side effects. You are in shock, an out of body experience, the doctors tell you things and others there should hear it with you, for you,” continued Olney.
She was told that the second day after her first treatment all her hair would fall out. As told, every hair was gone, eyebrows, everything. Olney joked, “Your showers are a whole lot quicker.”
Olney advised support people, “Have a lot of patience. Be their eyes and ears for them. Make them do what the doctors tell them to do.”
Olney supports educating the public. “Breast cancer has been such a private disease for women, and with so many women getting breast cancer it is so important for them to know what is going to happen to start with. It’s not a pretty disease.
“I was at a very dark place in the middle of my treatments. My radiation oncologist made me go to a counselor from American Cancer Society. I did not want to go; very upset.” After 10 minutes, Olney admitted that she was tired, worn out and was contemplating suicide. “The cancer society people sometimes get a bad rap. She helped me get through it. She really saved my life.” said Olney.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail: ads@pioneer-review.com

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