WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (4/10/13) - Webster County Relay for life will be hosting its 2013 event on Friday May 30, at Trojan Field in Dixon.
As we prepare for the event, The Journal-Enterprise would like to take an opportunity to honor a few Webster County residents who have won their battle with cancer. Their stories are all different, but each one is an inspiration.
“I’ve lost 12 friends and my mother to cancer,” said Dixon resident Ron Oakley. “I’ve got another 10 or so good friends who are cancer survivors.”
In 1993 Oakley started waking up during the night with severe nose bleeds. He was concerned, but he had no idea what was wrong. Then he developed a spot on the end of his nose and he knew that something was wrong.
“So I went to see Dr. (Wayne) Cole in Providence,” he said. “He looked at the spot on my nose and told me he thought it might be cancer. Then he sent me to see a specialist.”
Oakley was scheduled for surgery right away, and doctors removed the cancer. Unfortunately the report showed that they hadn’t gotten it all, so he was called back in to begin radiation treatments.
“I did two and a half weeks of treatments and that took care of it,” Oakley said. “It did come back in 1998, but doctors were able to cut out the spot. I took two more weeks of treatments. It hasn’t come back since.”
Oakley said that unlike many forms of cancer, his was not a ‘deadly” cancer.
“If it's not detected early it can spread and cause damage in other places,” he explained. Because of the location, it could easily have spread to his eyes or ears, which could have caused permanent impairments. “But we managed to catch it in time.”
He said that his battle with cancer has made him a lot more aware of the effects of the sun.
“I lived a lot of my life outdoors,” said Oakley. “I was an electrician and I had a place at the lake where I was out in the sun every weekend. They say that’s probably what caused my cancer.
“If you’re going to be out in the sun, please use sunscreen,” he added.
Although many people might not know it, Ron Oakley has played a integral part in helping other members of the community take part in Relay For Life. The idea to build the Webster County Relay For Life Wagon was his.
“I was amazed the first time I went to the Relay For Life walk,” he explained. “There were a lot of older people there who were cancer survivors, but they couldn’t walk because of some disability. I thought that they all should be able to participate in the walk, so I came up with the idea to build the wagon.”
The Relay For Life wagon started out as an old farm wagon that Oakley said was “ready for the scrap heap.” Some of the tires were flat, the frame was rusted and most of the timbers were rotten.
“It took a lot of people to make it a reality,” he said. “I went around and asked businesses for help. Some of them donated physical labor and others donated money.”
The wagon has proven to be a success, both in allowing other cancer survivors to be able to take part in the survivor’s walk, and in helping get the word out about Relay For Life.
“The rally only happens once a year,” Oakley said. “A few months after its over it starts to fade from people's minds. Seeing the wagon in parades around the county helps to keep it on everyone’s’ minds throughout the year.”
For years, Oakley pulled the wagon in parades all over the county. Eventually he handed those duties off to Kevin Burnett. Now that job falls to Jeff Yates.
For anyone currently suffering from cancer, or anyone suffering from an unknown problem that they haven’t consulted a doctor, Ron Oakley has one piece of advice.
“Don’t overlook it, seek professional help and be aggressive about finding a cure,” he said. “I think my faith in God and the power of prayer helped find a cure my cancer.”
This year’s Webster County Relay for Life is scheduled for Friday, May 30 at Webster County High School.
J-E News Editor
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