Celebrating life, fighting cancer

Not only did the 2013 Marshall County Relay for Life raise tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research, it also raised the spirits of those going through cancer.

The annual event at the Marshalltown High School track was held Saturday and committee chair Tara Ethington expected to raise more than $80,000 at the event.

“I was surprised how we had the track occupied with people all day,” Ethington said of the supporters. “We’ve had a great turn out.”

This year’s honorary survivor was retired East Marshall coach and teacher Rob Drake, who has lung cancer. Drake said to the crowd he was told by doctors he has two years to live. He’s ready to beat that estimate by several years.

“Miracles happen every day and prayer is very powerful,” Drake said. “If I have courage about cancer, I know God’s got my back.”

Drake said his team formerly was athletes, now they are his doctors and his family including his wife JoAnn. When they found out he had cancer, JoAnn told Rob she wished it was her going through it.

“What a team player,” Rob said.

Drake said going through cancer is made easier with the support of fellow survivors and visitors at the Relay for Life.

“It helps with all the support we have here,” Drake said.

Deb Martin was also among the dozens of cancer survivors on hand who participated in the event. The rural Conrad resident is a pancreatic cancer survivor.

“To see all the people who are here to support us, it’s awesome,” Martin said.

Ethington presented some alarming numbers about cancer to the crowd during her speech. She said 47 Iowans are diagnosed with cancer each day.

Though treatment has improved, events like the Relay for Life can go a long ways to help.

“All of us are here for the same reason – to put an end to cancer,” Ethington said. “We want to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”