The Missouri S&T ROTC Color Guard kicked-off the opening ceremonies for the Relay for Life of Phelps County fundraiser Saturday at 12-noon at Rolla Middle School. The all-day event featured games, music, vendors, testimonials, a luminaria-for-loved-ones ceremony, silent auction and awards.

The Missouri S&T ROTC Color Guard kicked-off the opening ceremonies for the Relay for Life of Phelps County fundraiser Saturday at 12-noon at Rolla Middle School. The all-day event featured games, music, vendors, testimonials, a luminaria-for-loved-ones ceremony, silent auction and awards.

Board member and event emcee Bob Kraus introduced Phelps County Regional Medical Center CEO Ed Clayton to give the opening remarks.

“This [event] is an important part of continuing the fight against cancer,” said Clayton, “a disease that touches each of us.”

Clayton painted a grim picture when he said in the U.S., in 2017, it is projected there will be approximately 1.7 million people with a cancer diagnosis, with 34,000 of those in Mo. The end result is 600,000 deaths with over 14,000 deaths in our state.
“The probability of a cancer diagnosis in males, in their lifetime, is 41 percent,” he noted. “For females, it is 38 percent.”

Despite the grim figures, Clayton says progress is being made. “Survival rates are much better today than they were just a few short years ago,” he shared.
He says he is optimistic with current cancer research conducted here in Rolla at the university—research that is nearing the cusp of discovery that will help diagnose and treat cancers with better efficacy in the near future.

“Today, let us remember those that we’ve lost and let’s celebrate those that have fought and succeeded against cancer—let’s stand by those that are currently undergoing treatments and let’s stand by those that are researching for the future,” he concluded.

Emcee Kraus continued the opening ceremonies saying the fundraising goal for the event was $45,000, before introducing cancer survivor speaker Cindy Beger, who has been cancer-free for 17 years.
“I am proud to be a part of the club of people fighting this disease we share in common, and most importantly, part of the group that provides a support system, without which many would be lost,” she said.
“The opportunity to fight back gives us the feeling of control, empowerment and most of all—hope.”
Beger shared her story and it is one to illustrate that cancer can strike anyone, regardless of leading a healthy lifestyle.

“I exercised and had developed habits of eating chicken, fish and salads—I ate so much broccoli that friends of ours said, ‘your kids are going to come out (born) with little green pods for hair!’” she joked.
“It started with a vague sensation that something wasn’t quite right,” she began.
From there, she talked of increasing pain, the serious diagnosis—so serious that death was probable, and “hail-Mary” treatments were initiated, due to her survival odds.
“There were a couple near-death experiences where they (doctors) said, ‘You maybe had better gather the family,’” she shared.

She explained in a very personal way the lows she and her family experienced leading up to her finale when she was eventually declared “cancer-free.”

“This is where I think we should take a moment to say thank you to all the care-givers, because those of us who have been there cannot make it through without them.

“My husband hardly left my side for ten months because I needed round-the-clock care,” she said.

“But let me tell you why I would not trade the experience.”

“There is no experience I can think of that might have shown me so dearly how truly good human-kind can be. I found it in cards and letters that poured in—they were monumentally uplifting—it was as healing as anything. I can’t describe it, but it was powerful, uplifting and palpable.”
She gave a shout-out to the PCRMC oncology staff.

“If those people ever have a bad day, they leave it at the door when they come in,” she said. “We are so blessed to have this [facility] in our community.”

“Relay exemplifies that powerful goodness of human kind that we experience when we are sick,” she said. “At the same time it is the saddest and most joyful of events.”

Emcee Bob Kraus knows all about Relay for Life events since he and his wife have been involved off and on for the last 20 years, starting in San Diego, Calif.

“My wife’s reason for relaying, is her mom, who passed away from breast cancer when she was 19,” he shared. “She misses her mom terribly after all these years. Relay for Life is just one way to give back to the community and help raise money to look for cures for cancer.”

He likes being a part of a global effort where people come together for one day to help defeat this disease.

“To get rid of cancer in our lifetime is what we really want.”