By CARLA MEYER
A local, who has been participating in Relay for Life for many years, says she never in a million years thought cancer would come knocking on her door.
Kim Klingler, who is a team captain for TSC Purple Stars and the retention chair for the Greater Auglaize County Relay for Life, has been active in the event for 11 years. The event’s purpose hit closer to home three years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was shocked,” Klingler said. “No one ever really thinks they will get cancer. I’m a healthy person, but cancer doesn’t care about how healthy you are.”
On Aug. 31, 2009, Klingler was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 39.
“When I was first told I had breast cancer I thought I was going to die and leave two children ages 8 and 14 at the time without a mother,” Klingler said, “but soon I realize that my attitude was everything when it came to my survival so I began to fight it with all my might.”
Klingler went through 11 months of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation to beat her cancer.
“My experience with my battle with cancer was far from normal and I experienced multiple complications along the way,” Klingler said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of side affects to chemo and I felt like I had every one of them.”
Ever since she was diagnosed with cancer, Klingler is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising and avoiding certain products that may link to cancer, such as shampoos, lotions and cosmetics containing parabens.
Now, Klingler’s goal is to win the war and do all she can to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for a Cure. She also strives to be an advocate for others battling with the disease.
“Previous to getting cancer I had been on TSC’s Relay Team for about 10 years not realizing at the time I would be fighting my own battle with the disease,” Klingler said. “I basically joined TSC’s team because I wanted to help make a difference in someone else’s life — not my own.”
Being a breast cancer survivor, Klingler said she will do anything she can to find a cure and to help those any way she can to deal with the disease.
“To repay my debt and gratitude for those who graciously helped me during the worst time of my life, it is in my heart to help others anyway I can deal with this dreaded disease,” Klingler said. “I feel like I went through my trials and had the experiences I had so I could help others get through tough times too.”
This year will also be Klingler’s first year that she hopes to serve on the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program. This program connects newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with carefully screened, well-trained volunteers who are breast cancer survivors. As a volunteer, Klingler would offer non-medical, peer support.
Klingler said it is rewarding to know she can make a difference and help someone who is going through cancer overcome their fears and show that person that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
While Klingler was dealing was cancer, she found strength from other survivors.
“I had a few friends who were also survivors that I could call just to tell them how bad I was feeling and in no time I was feeling much better and laughing at what I was going through at the time,” Klingler said.
She said that her friends completely understand what she was going through like no one else could because they have literally walked in her shoes before.
“No one chooses to have cancer, but you can choose the way you deal with it,” Klingler said. “My advice to someone dealing with cancer would be to stay focused on God and not the cancer and He will carry you through. Also, support the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life Event — you never know when cancer may directly affect you or someone you love.”