In 1994 my mother, Ellie Campbell, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her prognosis was not good. Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to detect until it is often too late for treatment to have a positive impact.
The Oncologist suggested chemotherapy but admitted that it only offered a 10% chance of prolonging my mother’s life. My mom was a fighter and at 63 years of age she was not ready for her life to be over and she yearned to see her grandchildren grow up, so she moved forward with the chemotherapy treatments.
As predicted the treatments did little to prolong my mom’s life and her battle ended on September 27, 1994 – 3 months to the day that we learned of her devastating diagnosis.
I wish my “Why I Relay” story ended there but my family’s battle with cancer was not over yet.
In 2000 my father, Jim Campbell, was diagnosed with throat cancer and prostate cancer.
His battle was a two and a half year journey that included repeated bouts of persistent pneumonia, painful radiation treatments, the removal of two thirds of his right lung and several long stays in intensive care. Through the whole process he fought to stay positive and struggled to fight the disease that was robbing him of his ability to eat, to speak, to breathe, to live. His battle ended on July 13, 2003.
In the hours just before he passed away, as I watched him fading I found myself praying for my mother to come take his hand and lead him out of his suffering.
The first Relay for Life I participated in was in Northern Kentucky in 1995 following my mother’s death.
I have been involved in other Relays over the years and will continue in the years to come for the simple fact that we must find a cure.
We must find a way to keep mothers and grandmothers with their children and grandchildren until a ripe old age. We must find a way to minimize the suffering our loved ones have to endure just struggling to remain with us as long as possible.