For a four-letter word, it carries a great deal of weight. Webster’s defines hope as confident expectation or, when used as a verb, anticipation with the expectation of fulfillment.
Either way, it’s the perfect word for Relay for Life participants.
For Karle Johnson of Cadiz, one of this year’s three Survivor Honorary Co-chairs, a lung cancer diagnosis hit hard. In 1994 he was given a seven percent chance of surviving five years. Thanks to advances in cancer research, he has far outlived those odds.
“There’s been no recurrence,” he said. “Life is good.”
Karle has been a part of Trigg County’s Relay for Life activities since the benefit for cancer research started here, and he celebrates each year.
“I’ve got a special place to hang my medals,” he said of the honor survivors receive at each annual event. “Whenever Relay comes around, it means I’ve made it another year.
“It’s probably one of the most important things in my life.”
Ken and Dorraine Traub of Cadiz agree.
Their son Ethan was diagnosed with leukemia at only 13 months old. Ethan’s treatment at Vanderbilt in Nashville was a textbook case, according to Dorraine. After three weeks of treatment, Ethan was officially in remission, the average time for cases similar to Ethan’s. A low blood count kept Ethan in the hospital for three more weeks as doctors boosted his immune system.
Although Ethan won’t be officially cured until he’s been chemotherapy-free for five years – it was three years last Friday – his prognosis is good, and he’s joining the Relay effort as a Survivor Co-chair this year.
“We’ve tried to do whatever we can to support Relay,” Dorraine said. “It means there’s the hope that someday there’ll be a cure. We’re raising money for research so other people don’t have to go through what we did.”
Having survived cancer, Karle said it always lingers.
“You’re never really over it,” he said. “It’s always in the back of your mind because it could come back.”
But the years add up in ways that once seemed impossible, especially for people like Karle whose prognosis was so dire.
“People who once died of some kinds of cancer aren’t dying anymore,” he said.
And that’s the point of Relay for Life.
The 2011 Survivor Co-chairs – Karle Johnson, Ethan Traub and Ruby Hyde – are living proof that research makes a difference. Research, funded by volunteers through efforts such as Relay for Life, provides hope for the future with hope for a cure.
For Ruby Hyde’s survivor story, see next week’s issue of The Cadiz Record.