Early detection saves lives and 25-year, two-time cancer survivor Grace Guyle of Cozad is living proof. She will be an honorary chairperson at the Relay For Life of Dawson County event on July 19 at Ehmen Park in Gothenburg.
There’s no such thing as “small cancer.” When you hear the words “You have cancer!” it is a life changing moment, she said.
Grace heard those words 25 years ago after a routine PAP test revealed abnormal cells on her cervix. It was diagnosed as carcinoma in situ, the beginnings of cancer.
Only her husband, Larry, knew how much the diagnosis affected Grace. “I felt like the world dropped out from under my feet. Here I am with four kids and I have cancer,” she said. However, the area was frozen and the cancer disappeared. She continued to raise her kids and welcomed grandchildren.
Then in 2014, Guyle had a colonoscopy that revealed a cancerous polyp which was removed. She dodged the bullet once more since her cancer was contained in the polyp and she did not have to have surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
“I’m glad to be alive,” Guyle said. She has been faithful with her annual exams ever since and is very aware of her health. “If something feels wrong, I get it checked. And my kids are more aware of annual exams. My message to others is to do your checkups and stay on top of it. If you have cancer, have a good support system. It makes all the difference in the world.”
“I really appreciate things so much more. I enjoy nature and being with my four children and seven grandchildren. I know how fortunate I am because I know so many people who went through surgeries and treatments,” she said. Those loved ones include her mother-in-law who has had multiple cancer diagnoses and her biological father who died of brain cancer. Most recently, two close friends at church are fighting cancer.
This year, Guyle celebrates 25 years of survivorship at one of her favorite events – Relay For Life of Dawson County. She attended her first Relay in 2004 in Cozad and spent the entire night “rocking for a cure” in her rocking chair.
“We’ve lost too many people to cancer. We need to do everything we can to get rid of it,” Guyle said. “Something has to stop it. Like my team captain says ‘we never know what dollar will find the cure!’”
Currently she is a member of the R.S.C.S. (Relatively Speaking Cancer Sucks) team and contributes cinnamon rolls and bread to the team’s famous bake sale fundraisers. She remembers the year her husband raised $75 and received a “shaggy dog” haircut. In the past, Guyle has dressed as Lady Liberty or a wicked witch at Relay, but the purple survivor shirt will always be her favorite.
“It feels good to wear the survivor shirt. I like to say I’m a survivor!” Guyle said. “When anyone asks me about Relay For Life, I tell them we are a group raising money for cancer awareness and to help find a cure.”
For more information about early detection and prevention, go to www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.