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Honoring cancer survivors

After his won battle with kidney cancer, a Lincolnton local designed a purple heart to be worn by survivors of the war on cancer.
“I think it’s something you ought to be proud of,” said Tony Setzer, co-owner of Gas Station Antiques in Lincolnton. “It is a war.”
Setzer received an official purple heart in his youth after serving in Vietnam. His bout with cancer was a more recent battle, starting this summer, and, fortunately, ending this fall.
“In an actual war, you do have some control of your situation,” he said. “With cancer, it’s kind of hard to control your own fate.”
Before June of 2004, getting cancer was one of the last things on Setzer’s mind.
“There was no history in my family,” he said. “I was never worried about cancer, and then ‘Bam!’ I got it.”
When he received the news he had one thought running through his mind.
“This can’t happen to me,” he said.
Luckily, the cancer was caught in stage one, and after two surgeries and partial removal of both kidneys, Setzer has received a clean bill of health.
It was while waiting for his second surgery in September that Setzer came up with the idea of designing a purple heart for survivors.
He was in the hospital on a floor with other urology cancer patients. The fire alarm went off, and they were all evacuated outside to a patio.

At three in the morning, Setzer and his fellow patients got to talking. The discussion ended up lasting hours, and by the end, Setzer had decided to create a medal for survivors.
He designed the purple heart during his recovery period, and now has it available as a medal, lapel, necklace and key chain. When Relay for Life kicks off, Setzer will be selling them on the sidelines. One dollar from every $5.95 medal will be donated to the cause.
“That’s one of the ways to fight cancer, one of the biggest ways,” he said.
Cancer remains a presence in his life. He is active in the Cancer Survivor Network, and recently, his own father-in-law was diagnosed with the disease.
“Hopefully, we’ll get him through it now,” he said.
For those who currently have the disease he offers a piece of advice:
“Never give up the fight, that’s 99 percent of it,” he said.
The purple heart will be available at Relay for Life as well as at Gas Station Antiques in Lincolnton. For more information, go to www.gasstationantiques.com or call 704-732-4900.by Sarah Grano

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