Relay for Life
Honoree battled cancer three times
By Lori Schneider
Three-time cancer survivor Becky Boeck is the 2018 honorary chairperson for the New London-Clintonville Relay for Life.
Boeck will be introduced during the Relay’s opening ceremony, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, June 8 at New London Intermediate/Middle School. The full event runs 5-10 p.m. at the track.
Cancer invaded Boeck for the first time in 1997 at age 47 when she found a small lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Boeck had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy every three weeks for three months and radiation.
Nine years later, in 2006, Boeck’s doctor told her that she had endometrial cancer. A hysterectomy was followed by radiation treatments.
“When I had no return of that cancer after five years, my doctor said that I should play the lottery because I was one of the lucky ones who survived five years or more,” Boeck said.
Cancer returned a third time in November 2016. This time it was in the form of two tumors, each a different kind of cancer.
“I had genetic testing done which revealed that I had the BRCA2 mutation,” Boeck said. “I decided to have a double mastectomy and scheduled it for Dec. 18. But before I could have the surgery, my heart went into atrial fibrillation.”
New medicine fixed that problem. After a long month of waiting, cancer surgery was done. Chemo treatments started in February 2017. Every three weeks, Boeck received a round of chemo, totaling five sessions. Each treatment included four medicines that were infused through a port.
But there was trouble. The chemo caused Boeck’s heart to function at 25 to 30 percent its normal strength.
“I couldn’t walk across the room without stopping to rest,” Boeck said. “I had to use an inhaler to have enough breath to walk from my house to my car.”
Instead, 30 radiation treatments were started in July and ended on Aug. 22.
“During radiation, the doctors also had to treat me for cellulitis in my legs,” Boeck said. “It made walking extremely painful.
“I was very blessed to survive my cancer,” Boeck said. “We got through the rough times with the help of the Lord. Many people were praying for me and many wonderful doctors and nurses gave me excellent care.”
Boeck explained that with her first round of cancer treatments in 1997, it seemed more of a guessing game for doctors. With a second round of breast cancer, the doctors are now part of teams, using their specialty to advance care as they work together. She says they have new ways to pinpoint cancer that weren’t used 20 years ago.
Getting cancer screening like mammograms and colonoscopies are vitally important because if one gets cancer, these baseline readings help doctors tremendously, Boeck said.
“Now that things are back to normal and I have had some months to heal, I am so much better. I am able to be active in my home, church and community,” Boeck said.
“We’ve done so much with Relay over the years, from breakfasts to line-dancing. And I stay with Relay because I feel it is so important to support cancer research. Our children and grandchildren need a brighter outlook against cancer.”
This year, with Boeck’s third bout with cancer on its knees, Boeck will have 16 family and extended family members with her at Relay for Life.
She is donating a special item for the silent auction Friday evening. Her first-ever quilt is made of Relay for Life t-shirts. Boeck and daughter Cathy saved the shirts from each of the New London Relay for Life events they attended. It has 30 blocks and makes a full-size bed cover.
“In the past year I joined a new quilting group at Emanuel Lutheran so I could learn about and get tips on making this quilt,” Boeck said. “I also applied for a Thrivent Action Team to pay for materials. I knew I wanted to donate the quilt once it was made.”
All of the quilters at Emanuel Lutheran Church in New London helped in one way or another, Boeck said. Terri Nelson, lead of the group, finished the quilt when Boeck’s 40-year old sewing machine broke.
Boeck hopes people will come out Friday, June 8 to see the quilt and support Relay for Life. It may not be the big event it once was, but it is just as important as ever, Boeck said. Boeck looks forward to seeing her family and longtime friends gather together to support and raise money for cancer research.