Cancer makes woman appreciate life

Editor’s note: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest support group for survivors. Communities across the country come together every year to hold more than 5,200 Relay For Life events in celebration of those continuing to fight and those who have won. In honor of Mifflin-Juniata’s 20th Annual Relay For Life, local survivors are reaching out to the community with their own stories. Celeste Reese, of Lewistown, shares her survivor story:

“I was diagnosed with a stage two invasive breast cancer in July 2011. I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation and now take a drug to prevent new cancer from developing. The treatment was difficult with a lot of side effects. I felt nauseous all the time, very weak and tired and I lost my hair.

“I thank God I had so many wonderful family and friends to take care of me. My husband, Tim Reese, was a rock for me. He helped me get around and took me for walks when I was too weak to go alone. My daughter and her husband, Trista and Brent Haagen, helped prepare meals and often went shopping for me. My parents and mother-in-law cooked and helped out every way they could. I couldn’t have made it through this experience without all of them.

“Other family and friends came to visit and brought food or small gifts to make me feel better. People were so kind to me that I knew God was using them to take care of me. I finished my last cancer treatment on April 30, 2012, and have considered myself cancer free since then.

“Cancer changes people. It changes how you view life and rearranges your priorities. Things that were once important are no longer first on your list. Suddenly, the need to experience life and enjoy all that God’s creation offers comes to the forefront. I decided that I needed to get in touch with friends that had lost touch with, I started making plans to do fun things. I began to run just because I was able. I previously had thought I would never run unless something was chasing me, but cancer changed that and made me appreciate that my legs were strong again. I have even run in several races in Pennsylvania.

“As a survivor, I have been given a chance to see my family grow, enjoy my granddaughter, enjoy my work and help other people in the trials of their lives – cancer or otherwise. I have begun to travel, to see more of this world, and generally just enjoy life.”