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Survivors recount cancer fight

T’lene Barker of Denver knows first hand what being a cancer survivor means.
Like many of the years that she has come to the East Lincoln Relay for Life Cancer Survivor dinner she has traced her handprint on the banner and has written how many years she has been a survivor.
But this year is different.
“I am young and healthy and I can help,” Barker said.
This is her first year volunteering for Relay. Barker was assisting cancer survivors trace their hands on the banner Monday night to celebrate those who beat cancer.
“I think we will have close to 200 handprints on this banner by the end of tonight,” she said.
Barker, 55, is a 17-year breast cancer survivor. Her mother, Merle Sherrill, is also a survivor.
“I was 38 when I was diagnosed, and it was very hard because my children were teenagers,” Barker said. “My mother also had breast cancer so we are very worried about the rest of the family because it is hereditary.”
Anything she can do to help with the research, she will do it, she said.
“It’s great and wonderful to have my handprint on that banner,” Barker said.
The banner will be displayed at the East Lincoln Relay for Life event this weekend to symbolize the more than 200 people who have beaten cancer.
Patsy Black, events chairwoman, said Relay for Life can be a happy and sad event.
“But we are there to fight cancer,” she said. “We will fight it all night long.”
Of the more than 200 survivors who were at the dinner, all were happy to be among friends.
Purple balloons surrounded the tables and a huge banner read, “Never Ever Give Up.”
Karen Cloninger of Denver has been a cancer survivor for seven years.
She said she beat it by finding God.
“Before I had cancer my life was mechanical and forced,” Cloninger said. “But during my cancer treatment I did remarkable because I was involved with a wonderful church and I felt God’s power.”
Relay for Life kicks off this weekend at 5 p.m. with the survivor check-in.

Cancer survivor Juanita McLean of Stanley puts her handprint on a banner during the survivors banquet on Monday. Attendants at the annual dinner traded personal stories about their bout with the disease.by Amy Wadsworth

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