WARREN — When JoLyn Blechert started volunteering for Relay For Life, she did so to show support to close friends and co-workers battling cancer.
Today, she’s continuing to volunteer, but now it’s for her husband.
Two months ago, Brett Blechert was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that can strike multiple organs. The disease was found inside Brett’s mouth.
“My husband and I got married on Oct. 22 of last year. We’d been together for eight years and just decided it was time to get married,” Blechert said. “Shortly after our honeymoon, he had bit the inside of his cheek. It turned into a canker sore and we expected it to go away within a week or so.”
It never went away, but got progressively worse. By early December he was being treated for an infection. In February, a biopsy confirmed stage IV cancer, which had spread to the lymph nodes in his neck just below the tumor in his cheek.
“Brett has received three rounds of chemotherapy and we’re awaiting surgery in May to remove the tumor and lymph nodes,” Blechert said. “Then he’ll likely have three more rounds of chemo and possibly radiation.”
Relay For Life always had a profound effect on Blechert, who now serves as Ogden’s Relay co-chairwoman. The Survivor Walk where hundreds of cancer survivors kick off the event wearing their purple survivor T-shirt and walk the first lap always touched her heart.
“The path is lined with participants cheering them on and celebrating their survivorship,” she said. “Not a dry eye to be found.”
Blechert has been involved in Relay For Life for nine years. Her husband often asked her why she continued to do something she wasn’t getting paid for.
“I told him that someday, when I get cancer, I’ll know that I’ve done as much as I could to find a cure,” she said. “Now he’s the one battling this horrible disease and I wish I could do more.”
This year’s relay is just another step in the right direction, she said. The relay will be held June 24-25 at the Ogden Amphitheater and Municipal Gardens, a change in location from the usual Weber State University track. The survivor ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at the Ben Lomond Hotel and opening ceremonies begin just after 6 p.m.
Food, entertainment, auctions, games and a motorcycle ride are just part of the festivities planned for the two-day event. The goal this year is to get 100 teams to sign up to raise a total of $150,000, Blechert said. The money will benefit The American Cancer Society and its research and support programs.
“Statistics from the American Cancer Society show that one in three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime,” she said. “If it isn’t you it will be someone you love. My husband is a very strong person and we’re fighting this cancer together but we’re just two people. Everyone can join the battle.”
Blechert said cash donations can be made at www.relayforlife.org/webercountyUT or call Melinda at 801-721-6420 or Blechert at 801-643-7163. She also is encouraging the public to put together more teams to participate in the event.
“Relay is the perfect opportunity for our community to get involved and have some fun while supporting the fight against cancer,” she said.
For more information, Google search Relay For Life to watch videos from across the country.