CRYSTAL LAKE – Sharon Karch, an Algonquin resident, suffered from a cancerous tumor on her kidney nearly 50 years ago, a time when cancer was rarely spoken about.
“I was in college at Northern Illinois University at the time,” she said. “Long story short, I felt sick over my winter break and went to the doctor.”
Karch was told she had a cyst on her kidney. The cyst and her kidney were soon removed.
However, Karch was never told her cyst was a cancerous tumor. Later, when she became pregnant, her doctor told her the shocking news.
“The supposed cyst I had removed was actually a grapefruit-sized cancerous tumor on my kidney,” Karch said. “Cancer and tumors were never talked about back then. I obviously never received chemotherapy; however, I have been cancer-free for nearly 50 years.”
Karch and many others will participate this weekend in the Relay For Life walk to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life walk will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and run through 6 a.m. Saturday at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.
The Relay For Life walk helps Karch and other cancer survivors and fighters know they are not alone.
The Crystal Lake relay is expected to raise nearly $25,000. This year, Relay For Life aims to collect nearly $90,000 in Illinois.
The Crystal Lake relay is the longest-running relay in Illinois. In its 21 years, it has raised nearly $3 million, said Jay Bastain, American Cancer Society event organizer.
“For the Crystal Lake relay, there are 250 registered participants,” Bastain said. “There will also be friends and family to support those who are registered and entertainers present making the turnout close to 500 individuals.”
Karch will speak before the walk and participate in the first lap known as the Survivor Lap. The second lap of the walk will be for caregivers of cancer patients, and then everyone is welcome to join in.
“The Relay For Life walk is a great celebration,” Karch said. “Many feel it would be too sad, and yes, it can be emotional, but it is mainly a happy day.”
Donations to the American Cancer Society are being collected through the beginning of August and can be made at americancancerfund.org or by phone, Bastain said.
Those who are not registered to walk still can attend and enjoy free entertainment and help support the cause by buying baked goods and other items, Bastain added.
For information about the Relay For Life event in Crystal Lake, call Bastain at 630-879-9009.