Cancer Affects All Ages

College student has heart felt story of her battle with cancer to encourage Relay for Life volunteers.

As a 25-year-old UNO student, Courtney Peart can come to grips with the fact that she will never have a child of her own. She can take the years of side effects from medication, the endless hours in doctors’ offices and numerous tests to find the cause of her abdominal pain. She looks back over the last 10 years and all that has happened with no regrets. And this year, she is hoping to help others who have gone through similar circumstances by being part of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
When she was just 15 years old, Courtney was diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful disease of the endometrium lining of her uterus.

Three years ago her symptoms worsened causing numerous surgeries, ER visits and thousands of dollars in medical bills. At the age of 23, she determined that she had no choice but to undergo a hysterectomy when her doctor found masses on her uterus through an MRI. On March 15, 2010, she faced cancer and fought with all she had.

“I woke up and realized I would never have a child of my own,” she said. “The doctor told me the masses were in fact cancerous but everything else was going to be fine. We found it just in time and chose the correct ‘treatment’ for it. Today I look back at my choice and after a hysterectomy, two oophorectomies, and being in full blown menopause at the age of 25 I am finally healthy and fully cancer free.”

In 2011, she hadn’t planned on participating in the Relay For Life due to a few school obligations that weekend. However, her team captain asked if she would represent their team as a survivor, even if she couldn’t stay all night. Even though she was scared and nervous, she attended and had a great time. This year, she decided to be more involved because of her first experience. She is a team captain for the athletic training students at UNO and is the survivorship chair on the planning committee. With this role, she has the opportunity to plan special things to recognize fellow cancer survivors throughout the night.

“Relay For Life is a place where survivors can go and not feel alone,” commented Peart. “They can feel like they have support and a new found family will emerge. It is important for people that haven’t been diagnosed with cancer to remember that they can still be a part of something bigger, they can still help someone who has cancer and they can still make a difference.”

This year, students from all over Nebraska will be able to put down the books for one night and join Peart in the fight against cancer by participating in any of six college/youth events throughout Nebraska. Relay For Life is a fun-filled, overnight event that mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones and raise money for the fight against cancer. Relay For Life unites people from all walks of life at the largest fundraising walk in the nation. Teams seek sponsorship prior to the Relay, all with the goal of supporting a cure for cancer.

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