If you are in need of a little inspiration, stop at next year’s Relay for Life at Havre High School.
Cancer has torn apart many lives — lives of young people and old people. And both young and old were on hand Friday night to tell their stories of survival and offer encouragement to those who have recently discovered they have cancer.
Their stories are inspirational.
Dylan Hendrickson, 13, shrugged off the attention he was getting at Friday’s Relay for Life, but his parents, Scott and Jennifer, were proud of what he’d gone through over the last year.
Dylan had a whirlwind Christmas season.
He had X-rays locally, left on a Lear jet for a Seattle hospital Dec. 21, and then began series of tests, X-rays and chemotherapy.
He went through some tough times, but he knew he had support at home.
Several fundraising projects took place at Havre Middle School while he was gone.
There were good times during his three-month stay in Seattle, including staying at the Ronald McDonald House, where they have lots of therapy dogs for the kids.
His favorite was an Alaskan Malamute named Juneau.
“That’s my favorite breed,” he said,
He’s back in the swing of things in Havre and took part in ceremonies Friday where he was the youngest participant in the Survivors Lap.
His advice to other who have cancer? Do what he did: Stay positive.
Community support helped him, said Scott.
“We had an awful lot of people praying for him,” he said.
While Dylan was the youngest survivor, Ilse Wagner was the oldest.
“I got cancer in 1981,” she said. “I’m still here. Lucky me.”
Quick work by her doctors and modern technology helped her get through the breast cancer, she said.
Ilse’s parents had cancer in the 1940s.
“Back then, they said ‘you have three weeks to live,’” she said.
If you have the slightest indication that you might have cancer, see a doctor right away, she said.
“I always have my yearly checkup,” she said, “and keep praying.”
Relieving stress is vital, she said.
When she gets the blues, she takes another foreign trip.
Cancer can happen to anyone, Deborah LaMere of Box Elder discovered.
She lost her stepfather to cancer, though he put up a 40-year fight.
“He quit smoking as soon as he learned he had cancer,” she said.
But Deborah always took care of herself. she didn’t drink, didn’t smoke and was in good physical shape.
But today she thanks her doctors and all her friends who stood d by her.
In 2003, Margaret Gill had a colonoscopy. Everything went well, and she was told to come back for another in 10 years.
Three years later, she felt a lump in her abdomen.
“I was in the middle of a few projects I wanted to finish before I had it checked out,” she said.
She admits she should have known better. She’s a retired nurse and lost two husbands to cancer.
"By the time I got to the doctor, it was Stage 3," she said.
Things got complicated when her doctor died and another left town.
But she was determined from the start that she was going to beat it, and she did.
Support from family and friends helped out a lot, she said.
"I got a good deal of support from my children," she said.
"They came from New York, Wisconsin, Colorado, as well as from Montana," she said. "I think that helped a lot."
Her advice to others: If you sense there is something wrong "get it checked out right away."
(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com, 406-265-6795 or 406-390-0798.)