GARNER | Christine Atwell is grateful for the American Cancer Society.
Atwell, a wife and mother of two, has spent the past seven years in and out of the hospital treating an aggressive cancer.
“I fight very hard every day for my children, for my husband,” she said.
Atwell was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 1999, and after chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy, she was declared cancer free.
But in 2012, the cancer returned, and it had spread to other parts of her body, like her legs, pelvis and spine.
Atwell began treatment at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa in Mason City before transferring to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She’s rotated hormone-blocking medication nearly every six months since her diagnosis.
For the past five months, she’s done IV treatment in Albert Lea. She will find out if it’s been effective in February.
“Thank you for what you do and continuing to support and ... raise funds so people like me have hope and continue to survive,” Atwell said.
Atwell, North Iowa Area Community College community education program manager in Garner, shared about her “long, arduous cancer journey” during the Hancock County Relay for Life kick-off meeting Sunday, Jan. 13.
Linda Webner, Relay for Life coordinator, invited Atwell to speak because of her history with experimental cancer treatments.
“If it wasn’t for the American Cancer Society and their support, these drugs wouldn’t be available,” Atwell said.
Atwell has been named the 2019 Hancock County Relay for Life honorary ambassador.
The Hancock County Relay for Life is an American Cancer Society fundraiser for research and programs. This year’s event is slated for June 21 at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Center in Garner.
During the meeting, the committee discussed changes to the annual event, like its time and activities as well as research developments, new fundraising opportunities and last year's event.
The committee’s next meeting, which is open to the public, will be at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in Britt.
Photos: 2018 Hancock County Relay for Life