The 2019 Relay for Life of Grant County will be held in UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse Friday evening.
This year’s honorary survivor is Suzanne Jones of Montfort, who was treated last year for inflammatory breast carcinoma — a rare but aggressive form of cancer that is different from what is usually considered to be breast cancer.
Despite a harrowing prognosis, Jones describes her diagnosis and treatment as “really a journey of blessings. A tale that is filled with miracles, love, extreme kindness, grace, excellence, and humanity at its very best.
“Mine is a very rare and aggressive form of cancer that I was able to see spreading once it metastasized into the lymph system of my skin. It was this symptom that brought me to the M.D.”
It may be ironic that Jones is a registered nurse, but she works in care for dementia, brain injury and cognitive impairment for the National Center for Dementia Behavior Management. She wrote a children’s book about Alzheimer’s Disease, Nice to Meet You … Again.
“I have been blessed to be a nurse, author, researcher, and advocate for those experiencing behaviors and psychological symptoms of dementias,” said Jones. “I have worked for 15 years now trying to improve the outcomes both physically and emotionally for those with cognitive challenges and their families. I love my work and could never work with a more deserving and remarkable group of human beings.”
Jones remembers the date she was diagnosed — Oct. 10, 2017.
“I remember vividly the call that asked more of me than I have ever had to give in the past,” said Jones. “My stage and kind of cancer had a very dark prognosis, however, through prayer, miracles, faith, the kindness of others and the healing power of love — I am a radical survivor.
“I was given incredible care and rushed through the staging and prep process due to a late stage 4 diagnosis and poor prognosis and was in chemo within 10 days of diagnosis followed by surgery and radiation.”
Jones was treated in Lancaster and Dubuque.
“They can’t tell me my prognosis because of the high rate of metastatis of this kind,” she said.
Jones’ attitude is remarkable for someone who got close to the worst medical news possible.
“My reaction — well, it was shock, but I am a woman of faith and believe in a Mighty God so my family and I turned to prayer and leapt very quickly into what we would find out to be a fight for my life,” she said. “Let’s face it — cancer treatment is a total disruption of life. My treatment was very extreme given my type, and … suffice it to say I fought for my life inch by inch and minute by minute.
“I have learned many lessons from this past year. I have learned to see God’s light in darkness, joy in sadness, strength in vulnerability, faith in hopelessness, perseverance in failure, and power in love. Most of all, I have been blessed beyond measure to wake each morning alongside my family and live gently, love passionately, choose joy, give grace, accept difference, and be a light in our world.”
As of Monday afternoon, Grant County Relay for Life has raised $20,078.87 of its $60,000 goal.
“I was deeply honored to be chosen as this year’s honoree, to give hope to those still in the fight with me, to honor those who fell to this stealer of life, and to stand here to say thank you to a community that healed me with pure love,” said Jones.
The opening ceremony, including the survivor/caregiver walk, will be held at 6 p.m., and the closing ceremony will be held at 11 p.m. The annual luminaria ceremony, honoring those with cancer and remembering those who died from cancer, will be held at 9 p.m.
The survivor dinner will precede Relay for Life at 4:30 p.m.
For more information, email Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (920) 422-7542.