OREGON COUNTY -- Dana Roberts is a cancer survivor.
In October of 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found herself wearing the purple cancer survivor shirt at the 2005 Oregon County Relay for Life activities instead of the usual white one she always wore. The purple shirt is for cancer survivors only.
She proudly took her spot among the cancer survivors -- her head bald because of the extensive chemotherapy treatment she had just completed.
"I felt strongly, before I had cancer, about raising money locally for the American Cancer Society and now I feel even stronger," she said.
Roberts said they (the American Cancer Society) were a big help to her. She said they provided her with literature about breast cancer and what to expect during her treatments.
Last year, mostly because of Robert's illness, her family became involved in local Relay for Life fund raising efforts. While she was sick her cousin who lives in Arizona sent Robert's mother, Carol Wilkerson, who lives in Thayer, some breast cancer ribbon material. Wilkerson made the decision to make a "Breast Cancer of Hope" quilt to raise funds for the Oregon County Relay for Life. With the help of Robert's family, and the quilt, her team, The Oregon County Relay for Life Coalition Team raised $5,461.97. The team graduated to a gold team. Roberts received a plaque for raising the most money in the county, $3,880. Overall, last year, Oregon County collected $65,624 for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life efforts.
Roberts had another cancer scare recently. This past March she had a nodule removed from her thyroid. It was not cancerous but it was still scary, she said.
"Dana is our inspiration," said cousin Barbara Olbricht of Thayer.
This year the family is taking the same approach toward raising funds, with just a little different twist. Because of Dana's two episodes with cancer, the cousins have joined forces to raise funds to beat the dreaded disease.
Three of those cousins, Janet Underwood, Olbricht and Wilkerson have met every Wednesday since January at Wilkerson's house to work on a quilt to sell to raise funds for the local Relay for Life.
They call their team Cousins for a Cure.
The cousins, 15 in all, are from three other states besides Missouri -- Arkansas, Tennessee and Arizona.
They have a long history of cancer in their family. Janet Underwood's father, Truman DuBois died of lung cancer. Her mother Maxine DuBois had breast cancer.
Another cousin, Linda Ezell, who lives close to Myrtle had her father, Leman James die of lung cancer. Another cousin, Lucrecia DuBois' mother, Alta James also died of lung cancer.
Dana's own grandmother, Emaline DuBois, died of breast cancer in 1944. "She was only 55. She suffered because so little was known about how to treat it," Roberts said.
The Cousins for a Cure quilt is complete and Roberts has again led the way by sending out notices in the mail to other family members and friends asking for a donation toward the purchase of the quilt.
They are already a gold team having earned over $5,000 this year. Besides the quilt they have had yard sales and sold dogwood trees and numerous handmade items such as crayon bags, bracelets and knitted dish cloths.
One cousin said, "We have stitched our way," when discussing all the handmade items they have made to raise money to help find a cure.
The Cousins for a Cure Team along with 24 other teams across the Oregon County area will be at the Thayer football field May 18 and 19 to participate in this year's Relay for Life activities in Oregon County.
Relay for Life organizer Janey Thompson said the goal for this year in the county is to raise $70,000. "We are already at $60,000, so we feel fairly comfortable we will reach that goal," she said.
In 2006, there were 60 local participants, including Roberts, in the cancer survivor's walk. Altogether 300 people represented the 25 teams present.
Thompson said she invites the community to come out and help support the county's effort in fighting cancer.