The Relay of Life for Stoughton, McFarland and Oregon is back for another year to pay tribute to those battling cancer – including a Stoughton native of 19 years who is this year’s honorary survivor.
The opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m. Friday, July 19, at the Mandt Community Center, 400 Mandt Pkwy.
This year’s honoree is retired nurse Rebecca Romine. She will give a speech at the event about her recovery after battling breast cancer and subsequently ovarian cancer.
“You have to keep going,” she told the Hub. “If you put your feet on the floor in the morning, it’s a good day.”
During the ceremony, Relay for Life attendees will honor those who have been affected by cancer and who have contributed to this year’s event.
After the ceremony concludes, there will be the survivor/caregiver walk. Then at 9 p.m., during the Luminaria ceremony, attendees will light lanterns that represent a life taken by cancer, a survivor or someone still fighting the disease. At 11 p.m., the closing ceremony will commence.
Romine said she was diagnosed with breast cancer Sept. 12, 2017 and ovarian cancer Dec. 7, 2017, but is now in remission and taking things “one step at a time.”
Having been a nurse since 1975 with a more “pragmatic” perspective about life, Romine helped a fair few of individuals with the disease. But never did she have a passing thought about being afflicted herself until around August 2017 when she noticed a lump on her breast.
It wasn’t sore and the lump was movable, she said, which is typically not indicative of cancer. Though after getting the lump checked, all of that changed.
“I had a mastectomy and that was about it,” Romine said. “They didn’t recommend any radiation. It was clear that the cancer was Stage I.”
Romine, with the support of her oncologist, decided not to undergo chemotherapy treatment. She continued to live her life to the best of her ability, until November 2017, when Romine noticed a firmness in her stomach.
“I went and saw my primary physician and they said ‘Let’s just do a (computed tomography) scan,’” she said. “I went and did my CT scan and after that I went to yoga. On my way home, I got a phone call.”
The call was from her primary care physician’s office. Staff suggested Romine to come back as soon as possible.
Romine’s doctor told her the CT scan revealed she had ovarian cancer and set her up with another oncologist. In January 2018, Romine then had surgery to remove the cancer, putting her into remission.
“I think with everything else I went through, it was the period between the diagnosis and having to wait over a month to see the doctor and get the surgery … that was the hardest time in terms of anxiety for me and certainly for my husband,” Romine said.
During that waiting period, Romine recalled conducting internet searches about ovarian cancer, even with her knowledge as a nurse, but reminding herself to be careful with what she read. She said she was forced to realize that every cancer case is unique and different.
“That was good advice to myself,” Romine said. “I just made a conscious decision that ovarian cancer was not going to define me.”
And it didn’t. Romine said there was still laundry to do. The floor still needed vacuuming. She could still get out of bed every morning, which was something she especially appreciated with her condition. Her perspective shifted to appreciating the little things — “the mundane things.”
“I was not going to be the nurse who had cancer,” she said. “I was going to be myself.”
For more information about Relay for Life of Stoughton, McFarland and Oregon call Jessica Lemke at 662-7542.