Johnstown’s Loretta Rector says if she hadn’t gone to her doctor for a mammogram in 2009, she wouldn’t be alive today.
Rector, a two-time cancer survivor, is the 2014 honorary chairwoman at Johnstown’s Relay for Life set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday, July 18, at Johnstown-Monroe High School, 401 South Oregon Street.
Rector said she looked at a reminder she was scheduled for a mammogram in a few weeks.
“I thought, ‘they never find anything,’ ” she said. “Then, I thought, it only takes five minutes.”
Recter said she was focused on her other health issues, including diabetes.
During her routine checkup, a carcinoma was discovered.
“The only way it could have been found was through a mammogram,” she said. “If I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t be here. You couldn’t feel it.”
Prior to breast cancer, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2006.
“That came as an ultimate surprise,” Recter said. “It was a regular check up with a chest x-ray.
“A CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan showed the lungs were fine, but there was a growth on my thyroid. It was thyroid cancer.”
Rector said cancer isn’t in her family’s history on her mother’s side.
“Mother died when I was 21,” she said. “I have no family history on mother’s side as far as females.
“For me it’s to be aware of what’s going on, and it’s always about having hope. I had 16 chemo (treatments) and 34 radiations.”
Rector walked a 5K April 19, celebrating five years of being free of cancer.
“That’s hope,” she said.
Rector said she’s humbled to be the honorary chairwoman of Johnstown’s Relay for Life.
“It gives me an opportunity to bring awareness,” she said.
“Have your checkups, even if they’ve been okay.
“That one time I almost didn’t do it, and it would have cost me my life.
“I’m very thankful I’m alive and I can share,” Rector said.
“I want friends and family to be aware. I don’t want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have to deal with it.”
In addition to being honorary chairwoman, Rector is participating as co-captain of the FAITH Walkers Relay Team, a group from First Southern Baptist Church where her husband, the Rev. Michael Rector is pastor.
She leads her team in fundraising with $765 of the group’s $4,624 in donations so far.
As of Friday, July 11, Johnstown’s Relay event had 17 teams and 170 participants registered to participate in the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity that brings together families and friends from local companies, schools and organizations to walk around a track in relay fashion.
Chris Betz is Johnstown’s event chairwoman for the village’s seventh annual event.
All proceeds raised from the event will be used for cancer research, education, prevention and patient services.
The teams had $13,977 pledged toward the overall goal of $50,000, said Mary Wiswell, survivor chairman. Last year’s local Relay raised $30,500.
“I think what makes Johnstown’s event unique is that we don’t have outside resources,” Wiswell said. “We keep everything in the community for sponsorships.”
Wiswell said the local Kroger Co. store has helped Johnstown’s event the last couple years.
“They donate $250 for a shopping list that goes to the Survivor’s Dinner and concessions,” she said.
Registration for the dinner begins at 5 p.m. Friday, July 18, with the meal being served at 5:30 p.m.
In addition to the dinner for cancer survivors, breakfast will be offered to Relay participants by Team Pink Party for Marty at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at the concession stand.
Wiswell said the theme of the local event is a play on Dr. Seuss stories. It is “One Wish, Two Wish, I Wish, You Wish for a World with More Birthdays.”
“The American Cancer Society theme for this year is ‘Finish the Fight,’ ” Wiswell said. “That’s the bottom line, finding a cure. If anyone has the fight in them, come and support our Relay.”