Cancer seems to have a stranglehold on my family. My younger sister, Diane Schelkopf Warning, lost her hard-fought battle with cancer last month at the young age of 43. She had breast cancer that metastasized.
Strangely enough, my dad also was 43 when he died of melanoma. My aunt Mary lost her battle with cancer last year, and my mom had a cancer scare as well, although God willing, she should be fine.
Even though Diane put up the strongest fight that anyone could, cancer didn’t define her. It was her will to live life to the fullest that did. That included Diane raising her daughter, Valerie, who recently gave birth to Diane’s grandson, Nolen. Diane also married the love of her life, Jeff Warning. They would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary this month.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die this year of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. But the odds are improving for those diagnosed with cancer. The relative success rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67 percent, up from 49 percent in 1975 to 1977.
The improvement is attributed to progress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage and improvement in treatment. Cancer research is continuing thanks to the money raised through American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Kane County.
Along with raising money for cancer research and the services the American Cancer Society provides, it also is an event celebrating the lives of people who battled cancer along with remembering loved ones lost.
This year’s Relay for Life of Kane County will start at 6 p.m. Friday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on Kirk Road in Geneva. So far, 859 participants are taking part in the event, and they have raised $165,179 for the American Cancer Society.
It’s not too late to participate. Those who want to do so can as an individual, part of a team or as a survivor. More information is available by going to www. relayforlife.org.
It’s also not too late to make a donation. Last year’s Relay for Life of Kane County raised $285,000, said Molly Link, of the American Cancer Society office in Batavia.
“We can collect donations up to Aug. 31,” Link said. Donations can be made at www.relayforlife.org.
Please consider giving what you can to help the American Cancer Society’s mission of helping cancer patients get well and fight back against cancer.
My sister never gave up in her fight against cancer. We need to take her strength and join together to fight this heartbreaking disease.
• Eric Schelkopf is a Kane County Chronicle reporter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.