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The Carthage Press
  • Relay for Life: Cheerfulness in the face of cancer

  • Joette Blades has never gone through chemotherapy, gotten a bone marrow transplant or even had a malignant tumor; but she is still a victim of cancer.


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  • Joette Blades has never gone through chemotherapy, gotten a bone marrow transplant or even had a malignant tumor; but she is still a victim of cancer.

    Blades was a fresh newlywed on her honeymoon when her husband, Tim, found a lump on his neck that would change their marriage and lives completely. Tim, it turned out, had Hodgkin’s disease, a type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. The cancer was already in stage 3 by the time Tim found the lump.

    “We didn’t go through a lot of the little fights that a lot of brand new married couples go through,” Blades said. “It really made us appreciate every day because we knew it might be our last one together.”

    Blades’ husband fought the disease with chemotherapy, radiation and what was at the time a very experimental bone marrow transplant. As a caregiver, one of the hardest things was to watch someone you love go through something like that, Blades said.

    “I got a lot of my strength from him and he from me,” Blades said. “I think that’s the way it works with a lot of caretakers. We got strength from each other.”

    After seven years of fighting, Tim succumbed to the disease at age 38.

    It was then that Blades, who has also lost a mother and a father-in-law to cancer, became very involved in Relay for Life. She began Relaying in Pennsylvania, where she lived at the time.

    As she spent more time with Relay for Life, she believed more and more in its beneficial power.

    Then came a turning point for Blades. A Community Manager position for Relay for Life became available in this area. Blades took it.

    “I know that if Tim were alive now and fighting that he would have a much better chance because of all the research and all the new treatments that have come since he was battling cancer due to the money that’s raised through Relay for Life,” Blades said.

    Blades is now the Community Manager for Jasper, McDonald and Cedar counties. Her job is to help area groups plan, fundraise for and get supplies for their community events.

    “I always tell people there are three huge things I love about my job,” Blades said. “Getting to know the survivors, meeting the families and working with the wonderful volunteers.”

    Even though Blades has lost so much to cancer, she is not bitter. She attended Carthage’s Relay for Life Survivors’ Dinner last Wednesday, and exuded cheerfulness and optimism the whole night. She laughed with survivors, hugged them and their families many times over and empathized with those who, like her, had lost loved ones. Blades said she does it because the local volunteers are a bigger blessing than even they know.

    “Everything they do and every penny they raise blesses so many lives, even of people that they will never meet,” Blades said. “It makes such a huge difference.”

     

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