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Kim Terpstra, a Union Grove resident and breast cancer survivor, is aware of the impact cancer can have on a family. It’s why she’s passionate about the work that Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society provides. About 20 years ago, Terpstra was the chairperson overseeing the Union Grove Relay for Life event. Now, after fighting her own battle, she is being honored as the 2022 Honorary Survivor at the event on June 3. This local event will take place in Union Grove at the Racine County Fairgrounds, 19805 Durand Ave.

Credit: American Cancer Society

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser that benefits the American Cancer Society (ACS). The event’s goal is to raise funds for cancer research, honor survivors, support the community, and celebrate Relay for Life’s impact. The kick-off starts at 6 p.m. and will follow with walking, music, silent auctions, food truck vendors and prize drawings. Throughout the night, there will be laps dedicated to survivors, caregivers, and to raising funds for a world without cancer. The event will conclude at 1 a.m. on June 4.

This event is made possible because of donors and volunteers. There are currently 17 teams signed up for the event. The Union Grove Relay for Life is hoping to reach a goal of raising $75,000. Currently, they are on track and have already raised $25,000.

“There are still lingering effects of the pandemic that has affected getting people fundraising,” said Maddie Petre, Community Manager for Relay For Life. “We have a lot of confidence that this year’s events will allow us to get back to normal and to have the success that we’ve seen from this community in years past.”

This year’s event wouldn’t be possible without the support of Kohls Department Store, Regal Rexnord, American Roller Company, and Community State Bank who have all pledged donations of over $1,000 this year. Community State Bank is also the employer of this year’s honorary survivor.

Petre shared, “she’s really encouraged the Community State Bank to support this event again this year. We’re really appreciative that we’ve been able to get them back on board and supporting Relay again this year.”

Battling Breast Cancer

Given Terpstra’s past involvement in the Relay for Life organization and her grandfather’s diagnosis of cancer, she has always been diligent about routine screening. During the pandemic, she was due for her routine mammogram. She completed it and received the news that no one wanted to hear. There was an abnormality that led her to have a biopsy.

She was initially diagnosed with Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS), which is a pre-cancer in the lining of the milk-producing glands in the breast. One hospital told her that a lumpectomy would be sufficient. Terpstra wasn’t comfortable with that answer and sought out an additional opinion. While there has not been any family history of breast cancer, she wanted to make sure that she was staying on top of her care.

After waiting a month to get into a breast cancer specialist, the doctor confirmed that Terpstra had Stage 1 breast cancer. Without any second thoughts, on November 1, 2020, she decided to proceed with a double mastectomy with reconstruction on December 3 of that year. She told the provider, “I’m not taking any chances.”

Credit: American Cancer Society

Recovering

Credit: American Cancer Society

During the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, Terpstra was recovering from a grueling 10-hour-long surgery. After this procedure, she was declared cancer-free. “I’m grateful to be cancer-free and hope my story will remind people about the importance of getting routine screening to detect cancer early when it can be easier to treat.”

To add to the situation, Terpstra’s husband was in the hospital, on oxygen, fighting COVID-19 while she was undergoing her fight against cancer. Meanwhile, her children who were 12 and 17 years old at the time, were at home without their parents.

During her recovery, her mother came from Kentucky to help her over the hurdle. Since then, her mother has passed. This has been extremely difficult for the recent cancer survivor. Terpstra shared that she would have loved to have her mother as the honorary caregiver of the Union Gove Relay for Life event.

Terpstra still deals with the emotional effects of having a cancer diagnosis. On top of that she is currently taking Tamoxifen, an Estrogen modulator, that helps treat and prevent breast cancer. While the cancer may be gone, “the emotions still I don’t think will ever change whenever you have a diagnosis like that,” she explained.

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society offers programs and services to help to those during and after cancer treatment. Being an active participant in the American Cancer Society’s mission is so important to Terpstra, as a cancer survivor.

Terpstra said, “you never know if you’re going to hear those words, and if you do hear those words, you need support at that time.” The ACS is that support system for many. In addition to her own experience with the ACS, Terpstra’s grandfather benefitted from the rideshare program offered by the organization.

“He went and picked up other cancer patients that needed treatments when he had his treatment,” stated the honorary survivor.

UG Relay for Life Schedule

The 2022 Relay For Life of Union Grove Event Schedule:

  • Set-Up begins at 3:00 p.m.  
  • Registration opens at 5:30 p.m. 
  • Invocation at 6:00 p.m.   
    • Opening Ceremony with Survivor Lap
  • Survivor reception at 6:30 p.m.   
  • Luminaria sales and silent auction open at 6:30 p.m. 
  • Grand Club Lap at 8:00 p.m
  • Luminaria sales and silent auction close at 9:00 p.m. 
  • Caregiver & Luminaria Ceremony at 9:30 p.m.           
  • Registration reopens at 11:00 p.m.        
  • Registration closes at midnight
    • All donations turned in by 11:45 p.m. 
  • Closing Ceremony at 12:30 a.m.        
Credit: American Cancer Society
Credit: American Cancer Society
Credit: American Cancer Society

Get Involved

There are numerous ways to become a part of Relay for Life Union Grove. It can be as simple as donating to an online fundraiser or coming out to the event. Additional ways to support Relay for Life Union Grove include:

  • Create or join a team for Relay for Life
  • Dedicate a Luminaria
    • Luminarias honor every life touched by cancer. Dedicate them to a lost loved one, someone currently battling, or anyone who’s overcome it.

“We invite the community to join the movement and come out to our event and celebrate survivors like Kim, honor those we have lost, and fight back against cancer,” said Petre. “By coming together at Relay, we bring our shared passion to end cancer and help the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society.

For more information about Relay for Life, visit the American Cancer Society website. Get connected and direct questions to Maddie Petre by emailing maddie.petre@cancer.org or calling 608-888-9622.


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