As Relay for Life Approaches, Student Health Director Shares Cancer Survival Story

Nebraska Wesleyan’s Relay for Life is fast approaching.

Students, faculty, staff and community members will join in the fight against cancer. And it doesn’t take long to find a Wesleyan employee or student who has been touched by the terrible disease.

Nancy Newman, Director of Student Health Services, is known around campus for her spirited attitude. She tells stories with the best of them but one story that often goes untold is her own battle with cancer.

“I thank God for my unanswered prayers” said Newman, referring to her prayer for 10 more years with her family.

In 1999, Newman was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. While attending a nursing convention, Newman happened to check her pulse and discovered a lump in her throat. She soon visited a series of doctors and one performed a needle biopsy.

“They called me and told me what I already knew,” she said.

She had cancer.

“I didn’t understand how you could go from being fine to ‘high risk,’” she said.

She opted for surgery immediately and had her thyroid removed. A series of radiation treatments followed the surgery. The surgery and radioactive iodine treatments were successful though she still has side effects from the medication.

“It’s been 10 years since the surgery and my medications still aren’t regulated,” she said.

Newman knows she’s lucky. When she was diagnosed, her sons were 10 and 12-years-old. She prayed for 10 more years so her children could have a mother as they grew up.

When explaining her diagnosis to her sons, she said, “Mom has been given a yellow card like in a soccer game; a yellow card is a warning. A red card, you get kicked out. The warning has made me blessed for each and every day that I’m given.”

Thyroid cancer can return, but Newman has had no reoccurrences.

“I just don’t think about it,” she said of a possible reoccurrence.

Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Relay for Life will be held Friday, April at 6 p.m. in the Knight Field House and will continue through 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 10. Several activities have been planned throughout the evening with family-oriented activities scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m.

Relay for Life organizers have set this year’s fundraising goal at $40,000 and are hoping to have 60 teams participate. There’s still time to sign up for a team. Cost is $10; teams are limited to 15 members.

Relay for Life organizers will hold a silent auction on Wednesday, March 31 in Great Hall with all proceeds going to the Relay for Life event. Auction items include Husker football tickets and gift certificates to Lincoln businesses.

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