Anyone who has experienced cancer knows it’s not just the disease that does damage. The treatments and mental anguish take a toll, too.
That’s why is so important to have people you can lean on, said Karie and Richard Schuck of Highland, both cancer survivors.
Richard was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1998.
“(The treatments) had me tore up, and I had no functionality for three months,” he said.
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During his treatments, Richard was at the hospital five days a week, eight hours a day.
“The treatments were the nastiest stuff ever, and I was off a week, then on again,” he said.
But he kept positive.
“I never had the thought that I was going to die,” he said.
And it paid off.
“I was cancer-free in 2003,” Richard said.
Richard’s fight was before he met his wife, but he had other family and friends to support him, which was important.
“You can’t do it by yourself,” he said.
Sixteen years after his diagnosis, Richard would have to apply the lessons he learned once again — this time for Karie’s own cancer fight.
“I developed two, huge knots in my neck in September 2014, but the doctors didn’t know what it was right away,” Karie said. “I did some tests, but they said it wasn’t cancerous.”
Since the doctors told Karie she didn’t need to worry, she put it in the back of her mind. That is, until she developed a third knot a few months later.
She went back in for more tests and was given news she didn’t want to hear. She had developed squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.
“I was terrified,” she said. “You just don’t think it will ever happen to you.”
As soon as she found out she had cancer, she had the knots removed. After surgery, she underwent radiation and chemo treatments for six weeks.
Armed with knowledge from his own battle, Richard was able to understand what his wife needed most — him being there with words of encouragement.
“I’d pick her up after work, after she was tired, and told her she had to stay with it (treatment) no matter what. Having family by your side is a major help,” Richard said.
Karie said Richard and her children, Karlie, 15, and Alesha, 10, were her rocks. But that still didn’t take away the shock of her diagnosis.
It was Alesha’s support that really got Karie through the tough days. She attended nearly every single treatment with her mother, and it was seeing her daughter’s face that gave Karie the strength to endure and overcome.
“The nurses would let her go into the room with me,” Karie said, pulling Alesha closer as tears welled up in her eyes. “She would watch them give me the radiation treatment.”
After six weeks of intense treatments, the cancer was obliterated and hasn’t returned.
“I just had a scan the other week and everything came back fine,” Karie said.
She still has check-ups every other month, but the future is looking bright for the Schuck family.
Karie attributes her clean bill of health to not just the doctors and treatments, but to the outpouring of love she received.
About Highland Relay for Life
When/where: The communitywide Relay will be held at Glik Park on July 8.
What is Relay for Life? The event will feature a variety of activities and competitions to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost to cancer and raise awareness of cancer and ways to try to prevent the disease. Throughout the evening’s activities, each team keeps at least one member walking on the track.
The event kicks off with a free dinner for survivors and guests the night of Relay, followed by opening ceremony and survivors lap. Another highlight is the luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Activities continue throughout the night until the closing.
More information: Anyone interested in corporate sponsorship, registering a team, or learning more about Relay can contact Joy Krouper, event lead, at (618) 409-7864 or firstname.lastname@example.org.