Cancer is a familiar visitor in Laurene Leuth’s life.
That’s not just because she’s a 44-year survivor. It’s also because of the people it’s affected in Leuth’s life.
One of her sons survived oral cancer. A daughter-in-law died of cancer.
Leuth is one of the people cancer has touched in multiple ways who will be walking during the Relay for Life at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse starting Saturday at 6 p.m.
More information about Relay for Life can be seen on page 8A, at www.relayforlife.org/grantcountywi and at the Relay for Life of Grant County Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RFLGrantCo.
Leuth was diagnosed in 1970 with cancer that became “invasive into my reproductive organs,” she said. “I had two young children in the house,” ages 7 and 9, plus a 17-year-old daughter and a son in college.
“I remember the traumatic-ness of the word ‘cancer.’ I couldn’t even say it for a while. When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s quite devastating until you deal with it.”
Leuth’s cancer experience shows how treatment has changed. Her diagnosis predated chemotherapy; her treatment was cobalt insertion.
“It was very intense,” she said. “I had to go to Dubuque, and then be hospitalized for treatments. I didn’t even ask the doctor about my survivability; he knew my nervousness about it.”
Leuth’s sister asked Leuth’s doctor about her chances, “and he told her that I probably had a 25 percent chance of survival for five years. He never did tell me. I knew it had gone invasive, and that it could be a terminal thing.”
Forty-four years later, Leuth is 83, and planning on walking in the annual Relay for Life with the Friends Uniting for a Cure team, which will include four generations of her family, including a granddaughter and great-granddaughter.
“Here I am today, and very thankful to be experiencing the gift of life,” she said. “I’m so thankful for all of the efforts of the Relay team and the effort to find a cure, and how everyone works together and everyone comes together. It’s an exciting event to participate in, not only in victory, but in hope.”
Leuth said she had “some” health problems from her treatments, “but not any that deterred me from living life.”
One of Leuth’s sons survived oral cancer. “He was free of cancer when he passed seven years later” of a heart attack, she said. A daughter-in-law died of cancer of “unknown origin,” she added.
“They’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still a lot to be made.”