Three cancer survivors will lead the Lap of Hope at the 20th Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Dawson County on July 25th at Lake Helen in Gothenburg.
These honorary chairpersons begin the Survivors Lap leading all cancer survivors who are celebrating their victory over cancer.
This year’s honorary chairpersons are Karla Ricley and Jane Norseen, both of Gothenburg and Cynthia Fisher of Moorefield.
Karla Ricley, Gothenburg
Karla Ricley - Walkin’ the “Planks” Relay For Life Team Captain
Karla Ricley of Gothenburg knew some-thing wasn’t right when she went to the doctor for her annual checkup last year. The test results came back and she heard the words “you have uterine cancer.” First, she went numb, then she cried a lot of tears. “I couldn’t even ask the doctor any questions,” she said. “Thank goodness Randy (my husband) was there to do that for me. I thought, it can’t be cancer. We have heart disease in my family, not cancer.”
It wasn’t long before Ricley took charge over cancer and wanted to know the next step to get on top of it! She had a complete hysterectomy on June 11 at Methodist Hospital in Omaha. A month later, she had her first chemotherapy treatment at Callahan Cancer Center in North Platte. This year, she stepped up her fight against cancer by recruiting a Relay For Life family team called “Walkin’ the ‘Planks’” (Plank is her maiden name and her team is made up of her husband, her mom and her sisters.)
Family, friends and faith kept her spirits up. “I went in with a positive attitude that everything would be okay,” Ricley said. “May family kept me going then and still keep me going. My husband Randy was a great caregiver and still is.”
Like many cancer survivors, cancer changed Ricley’s outlook. She has more empathy for others who are recently diagnosed. “Not that I didn’t care before, but I actually know their feelings. I really do know what they are going through,” she said.
Ricley encourages newly diagnosed cancer patients to have a positive attitude and ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment options. “Don’t be afraid to talk about your cancer and treatments when people ask. They really do care and what to know how you are,” she said. “And don’t be afraid to ask for help. People want to help in any way they can, but don’t want to intrude.”
She also recommends taking someone to doctor appointments because they might hear things that can be missed. Writing notes helps for later reference, she said.
This is Ricley’s first Relay For Life and she is honored to be selected as an honorary chairperson. “I am glad to think that I can help be part of the fight against cancer,” she said. “My team and I plan on having a lot of fun!”
Cynthia Fisher – “Fighting For Fisher” team member with Gothenburg Hospital
Living with cancer for the past five years has not kept Cynthia Fisher of Moorefield from doing what she wants to do. “My first reaction was I’m in real trouble,” she said. “But later, I said I am not going to let cancer stop me.”
In 2009, Fisher was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a routine check up. She had surgery to remove the tumor and debride the cancer from her stomach wall and then several chemotherapy drugs over the next three years. In 2013, doctors told Fisher she has leukemia. She currently continues drug therapies in a continuing fight against cancer.
“Unknown things can happen at a moment’s notice,” she said. “I enjoy the small things in life more and I enjoy God’s nature.
Faith and a lot of prayers has helped sustain Fisher. “I have hope for a miracle,” she said. “All of the prayers and love of family and friends means so much…. And a lot of laughter keeps me going. I take as many hugs as I can when I’m able.” Fisher recommends finding someone to believe in, laugh a lot and hug a lot to anyone diagnosed with cancer.
This will be Fisher’s first experience with Relay For Life. She works at Gothenburg Hospital where her co-workers have offered much support and encouragement. These same co-workers organized the “Fighting For Fisher” Relay For Life team in her honor.
“When I found out I was an honorary chairperson, it made me cry,” Fisher said. “I feel so honored to be part of this impressive organization.”
Even though Fisher had not been part of Relay before, the American Cancer Society is no stranger. She utilizes the ACS 24-hour hotline, had received a wig when she lost her hair and continues to read and enjoy the COPE magazine.
Jane Norseen, Gothenburg
Jane Norseen – “Lucky 13” Years as a Survivor
Jane Norseen of Gothenburg felt a lump in her breast 13 years ago and just knew… She didn’t waste any time scheduling a mammogram which confirmed a diagnosis of breast cancer. It still left questions like “How can this happen to me? What about all the things I have going on at the moment like my son’s graduation?”
Instead of dwelling on questions, Norseen made a commitment to living. “I knew I had to keep a positive attitude not only for myself but for all those around me. I knew I had to keep going and fight for my kids!!” she said.
Treatment began with surgery which was a single mastectomy at Good Samaritan Hospital. “I remember just getting back to my room after surgery and my daughter Jennifer’s entire Improv team came to visit me on their return from Improv camp,” Norseen said. “I did chemotherapy every three weeks for six months and then every week for 12 weeks. I also did radiation every day for six weeks.”
Norseen admits she doesn’t have as much energy as before. Her cancer was a type of hormone receptor, so she couldn’t take hormone therapy to help with things such as hot flashes. She continues to keep up on different research and is fortunate enough to be part of a breast cancer study through the American Cancer Society.
She encourages others diagnosed with cancer to keep a positive attitude, take care of themselves and let others help. “Just remember that just because you have cancer doesn’t mean that you have to change everything about your life,” Norseen said.
Last year, Norseen’s daughter Jennifer organized the Peterson’s Supermarket Relay For Life team and Jane walked in the survivor lap. “Relay is for a wonderful cause. I appreciate that it represents all kinds of cancer awareness at one time!” she said.
Being one of the honorary chairpersons this year is a great honor since she is a 13 year cancer survivor. “Also, it gives me a chance to represent my friends and family who have or had cancer, and honor those who are not with us in anymore,” Norseen said.
For more information about the Survivor Lap, contact Chris Barnes of Cozad at 308-784-4484. For more information about Relay For Life, contact event chairperson Pam Ackerman of Lexington at 308-324-2230.
For more information about cancer, call the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour help-line at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.