Relay for Life: A personal battle leads to a relentless fight
Five years ago, Elaine Hurst remembers sitting down at her desk at work and making the call. Her doctor answered and immediately expressed the news wasn’t good. The next few words to follow were, “Elaine, you have breast cancer.”
“I thought, ‘am I in a bad dream?’” said Hurst. “It was like, wham! The wind was knocked out of my sails.”
Elaine’s gynecologist found the suspicious area in her breast a few weeks before during her annual checkup. She also noticed her neck (thyroid) felt different.
“I was immediately scheduled for a mammogram and an ultrasound for my thyroid,” she said. “When they did my mammogram, and saw the area, they went ahead and did an ultrasound. Immediately, on the following Monday, I had a biopsy on my breast.”
Hurst admits that during her mammogram and ultrasound, and even waiting to receive her results she was in denial.
“Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m a healthy lady. There is nothing wrong with me.’”
It wasn’t until hearing the words, “you have cancer,” undergoing a lumpectomy and fighting through radiation that things became real.
“It was a trying time,” said Hurst. “My family pulled me through.”
Months after her surgery and treatment she returned to her doctor for a follow up appointment. Her doctor then asked that she see an endocrinologist about her thyroid. For the second time, Elaine admits she again was in denial. She was to return to the endocrinologist on a Friday to receive her results from the following visit, but her daughter went into labor with her grandchild on that day.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m not going to that appointment; I’m going with my daughter and this baby,’” she said. “It was after the baby was born that I called the doctor. They told me again that they didn’t have good news.”
Elaine was about to fight yet another battle with cancer. To treat her thyroid cancer, doctors completely removed the gland.
“There is nothing fun about thyroid cancer,” said Hurst. “This was an experience and a half. It changes your whole body!”
Elaine admits fighting cancer has been a journey, but found she learned a few key lessons along the way.
“You enjoy family more. My husband, Donald, my daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Lynn, my son Alan, and his wife, Katie, went through so much while I was battling this disease,” she said. “They helped me through it. Oh, and I could never forget the loves of my life, my two grandchildren, Tate and Madelynn.”
“I also try to experience everything in life and take time. And, I try to be nice to people. Your attitude about life just changes.”
She also learned that more lives can be saved from cancer by participating in her local Relay For Life of Powell County. She’s served as a team captain for six years now.
“Our team, Red River Health Care, is going to be the Flintstones this year,” she said. “We’ve done some really cool fundraisers like a couponing night, a Valentine’s Day cake pop fundraiser and a cookbook.”
Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser. Because cancer never sleeps, Relay For Life is an overnight event where teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a path. The event raises much needed awareness and funds to fight cancer.
Money raised through the event helps support the American Cancer Society’s cutting-edge research programs, as well as programs and services such as wigs and mastectomy supplies, college scholarships, Road to Recovery, Reach to Recovery, Look Good… Feel Better and free lodging for patients in active cancer treatment at one of our five Hope Lodges in the Mid-South, including the Hope Lodge in Lexington, KY, and so much more.
“I participate because I know that I’m helping to save lives and we need a cure, desperately,” said Hurst. “If the Relay here just helps one somebody stay at a Hope Lodge, then it’s worth it. I know you (American Cancer Society) offer lots of good things, but if we could help a person with one little thing like that, it’s worth it.”
The Relay For Life of Powell County will take place May 11-12 at Stanton City Park. For more information on how to join the Relay For Life of Powell County, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit relayforlife.org/powell.