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Relay offers stories of resilience
Honorary survivors Marcia Davis, left, and Robin Guess, both of Monroe, lead the first lap of cancer survivors around the track at Brodhead High School Friday, June 21. The walk was part of the Relay for Life of Green County event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. (Times photo: Mark Nesbitt)
BRODHEAD - Marcia Davis didn't know if she would ever sing again after battling ovarian cancer last year.

Davis of Monroe, not only beat ovarian cancer, but she returned to her singing group and was one of two honorary survivors to lead the first lap around the track at Brodhead High School for the 18th annual Relay for Life of Green County Friday night.

Davis was diagnosed with fourth stage ovarian cancer in 2012. She said her first warning signs were struggles walking during a trip to San Francisco.

"I couldn't walk a block without chest pain or without stopping to take a break," she said.

Davis had two liters of fluid drained and her left lung collapsed. She has gone through five surgeries in four different cities, including partial removal of her pelvic bone and having her ovaries, appendix, spleen and fallopian tubes removed. She also had a tumor on her colon removed. After a recent CT scan, though, she is clear of cancer.

"I am singing again," Davis said. "Praise God! I'm getting better every day. They removed everything they had to so I could survive."

Davis joined hands with fellow cancer survivor Robin Guess, of Monroe, to lead survivors for the first lap around the track.

And Davis is taking life the same way she took that first lap: one step at a time.

"We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we have today," Davis said. "Today matters. Let's make the most of it."

The event also included a luminaria candle lighting ceremony in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of those who died as a result of the disease. About 400 people turned out to walk around the track in a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, for research and support of those fighting cancer. Several teams planned to camp out and walk into Saturday morning.

Jo Ann Steuri, a nurse at Monroe Clinic who is the team development coordinator for the Relay for Life of Green County, said the goal is to raise $85,000. The Green County branch of the Relay for Life had already raised $55,000 before the walk Friday.

The event touches close to home for Steuri, as her father is battling prostate and bladder cancer. She was the team captain for Monroe Clinic's Family and Friends team, which was one of four teams Monroe Clinic had at the event.

"I really think the only way we are going to make a difference in the disease is to keep fighting," Steuri said. "We have made a lot of progress. We have a lot of battles to win yet. Cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence."

A death sentence turned into survival for Guess, who was diagnosed with four cancerous tumors on her lungs in 2011. She had them removed and had 16 weeks of chemotherapy. In July, they found a tumor on her brain and in September she was informed she had four months to live.

"That was the hardest thing in the world," Guess said. "I wrote a letter to my children."

She underwent 10 sessions of radiation on her head and after she went back for three scans, they all checked out clear of cancer.

"I'm a survivor and here I am," Guess said.

Steuri wants the public to know the support the American Cancer Society can offer apart from the Relay, including rides to doctor appointments and supporting fellow cancer survivors.

"There is always someone available who can talk to you," Steuri said. "It doesn't have to be a silent fight. We want to make some noise walking around this track."