CADILLAC — If it weren’t for cancer research, Cadillac resident Nikki Soelberg might not be alive today.
Before she was born, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. However, thanks to new cancer research at the time, Soelberg’s mother lived, gave birth to her and then two younger siblings.
“There’s nothing that could’ve been done without the research,‘ she said.
That’s a part of the reason she went to the annual 24-hour Relay for Life event at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Cadillac on Friday.
Soelberg has been going to the event for around eight years and said it ‘reinforces the need for the support and research.’
It’s also a yearly remembrance for her and her daughters, as they have family who have died from cancer and who are survivors.
The event is a community fundraising walk comprised of individuals and teams who raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Team members take turns walking, keeping at least one team member on the track for the duration.
Wanda Lucha, one of the organizers, has helped at the event for three years and said it is “very near and dear‘ to her heart.
She has a nephew who's 10 and is going through his third cancer remission. She also lost a grandmother to cancer, she said.
It seems like cancer is neverending and so many people are affected by it. Everyone Lucha knows has been impacted by it in one way or another, she said.
That’s why this event is needed and why a cure for cancer is needed.
“Just remember, everyone’s been touched,‘ Lucha said.
Karen Keesler of Cadillac, a cancer survivor and advocate, said one out of three people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
People can be diagnosed as an infant, a teenager, in middle age or as an older person.
“It can rear its ugly head at any time in life,‘ Keesler said.
Relay for Life raises money for research but it also raises money for resources for those fighting cancer, like the Hope Lodge in Grand Rapids, she said.
The lodge is a “home-away-from-home‘ for adult cancer patients and their caregivers who must travel to Grand Rapids for treatment.
It is free and Keesler knows about six people who have gone and said it gives them peace of mind.
She can’t say she’s met anyone who hasn’t been impacted by cancer and thinks everyone’s life has been touched somehow.
“That’s why we do this, to bring awareness and kick cancer’s butt,‘ Keesler said.