If there’s one thing everybody has in common, it’s that they all know somebody affected by cancer.

If there’s one thing everybody has in common, it’s that they all know somebody affected by cancer.
A lot of them gathered Friday at Hutchinson Field for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Crawford County.
“We’ve got 27 teams registered with about 253 participants,” said Rhonda DeWitt, ACS community manager.
“We’ve also got close to 100 cancer survivors here,” added Stephanie M. Thompson of Early Detection Works.
Theme of the event, which will conclude at 5:30 a.m. today, is “When Hope Began,” commemorating the 25th anniversary of Relay for Life.
“The next 12 hours will take us on a life-affirming journey to battle a disease that never sleeps,” said Kim Vogel, Relay chairman, during the 6:30 p.m. opening ceremony.
She called on those who had heard of Dr. Gordy Klatt to cheer, then explained that, in 1985,  Klatt, a Tacoma, Wash., colorectal surgeon, took to the track at the University of Puget Sound and ran for more than 83 miles to benefit his local American Cancer Society office. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Dr. Klatt, and his efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer.
“All of this started with one volunteer,” Vogel said. “By walking this track tonight, you are joining with 4 million others around the world.”
Chris Kelly, serving as emcee, introduced staff members from Mt. Carmel Cancer Center. They presented special pins to cancer survivors, who made the traditional first lap around the track before the teams took to the track.
Debra O’Doherty heads the Pitsco Education team. “I have always relayed, and I lost my father 20 years ago to cancer,” she said. “Part of my job is to put together a team. We’ve got 16 official team members, and probably 20  who will walk with us.”
O’Doherty said that the company also has a fundraiser in conjunction with the Relay.
“We have a spring fling, which gives employees a day off work to play games and have a cook-off,” she said. “We give half of what we make to  Relay and half to Angels Among Us.”
Some teams also had fundraisers at the Relay, DeWitt said, offering homemade ice cream and other concessions, face painting and games.
“Our goal for the Relay is $30,000,” DeWitt said. “We’re getting close, and money is still coming in.”
Live entertainment was scheduled throughout the night, and a luminary lighting ceremony was held at 9 p.m., with approximately 2,000 luminaries honoring those lost to cancer as well as cancer survivors.
Debbie Menghini, Pittsburg, has battled cancer twice. “I had melanoma 14 years ago, and breast cancer seven years ago,” she said.
The melanoma started in a mole on her chest. “Three doctors here looked at it and told me it was nothing because it didn’t meet the usual criteria for melanoma,  but I knew it was different,” Menghini said. “Then I went to Houston and had some moles removed from my face, and I asked the doctor to take the mole off my chest, too. When I got home to Pittsburg, the telephone was ringing. It was the doctor in Houston telling me that I’d been right, the mole was melanoma. People really do need to be their own best advocate, and be aware of changes in their bodies.”
Her friend, Donna Morgan, Pittsburg, didn’t notice any changes, but did faithfully get mammograms done. At her last one, in November, a small lump was found. “I learned the Monday before Christmas that I had breast cancer,” she said.
She began thinking of her family, her husband, son, daughter and grandchildren, and what it would mean to them if she died. But the tumor was small and encapsulated, meaning that it had not spread. She underwent a lumpectomy and didn’t require chemotherapy.
“I feel like I was very lucky,” Morgan said. “My granddaughter had said to me, “Oh, you’ll never die,’ and the doctor told me I wouldn’t die of this.”
She advises women to get regular mammograms, and she prays. “I pray every night that all the people who have cancer will get well,” Morgan said. “And I pray that all the people who don’t have it will never get it.”