Barb Lewis will admit she waited too long.

“I skipped seven years of mammograms,” said Lewis.

That is not something she would recommend.

In fact those who meet Lewis this coming Friday (Aug. 2) will likely hear words of encouragement about getting in and getting checked.

Lewis, who calls Belview home, is a cancer survivor, and she will have the opportunity to share her story Aug. 2 as part of the opening ceremony during the Redwood County Relay For Life event, which is being held at the Gilfillan Estate.

Lewis, who is from Wisconsin, came to Belview as a result of a connection she made through hot air ballooning. Lewis and her husband, John, met Kim Sander at a balloon rally in Hudson, Wis., and Sander helped convince some hot air balloon enthusiasts, including Barb and John, to bring a balloon to Belview.

Ultimately, that was able to take place, and in the end Barb and John Lewis fell in love with the community and decided to move there.

“We moved here nine years ago,” said Lewis.

Lewis’ cancer story actually started with her sister, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, and yet, admitted Lewis, that still did not initially convince her to get in to see the doctor. She finally went in May 2018. 

Lewis said they found the cancer May 9, 2018.

“That starts a whirlwind,” said Lewis, adding they saw a doctor right away and learned about treatment options.

Lewis began with chemotherapy, adding there was a lumpectomy performed that was followed by radiation and more rounds of chemotherapy. Lewis said she received her treatments in Mankato at the Mayo Clinic location there, adding she really appreciates those who made the time to take her to her appointments.

Caregivers are a huge help, said Lewis, adding her husband, John, really stepped up and did what was needed.

“John has been my rock through it all,” she said.

Having those caregivers who become one’s support system has been critical, she added.

While her sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer, Lewis said there has not been anything in the family that indicates that type of cancer is hereditary. Yes, there have been others diagnosed with cancer, but even she and her sister were diagnosed with different types of breast cancer.

Lewis said she appreciated knowing that her sister had experienced the same kinds of things she would be experiencing as part of her cancer journey, adding just knowing what was going to happen next was a big help for her.

Lewis also found support online through a Facebook support group, adding being able to ask questions of others and to just know there were others who had been through what she was experiencing was great. Yes, she agreed, knowing there were survivors out there was reassuring as well.

Along the way, Lewis got more involved with Relay For Life, adding as she learned the kinds of things that were being supported through the funds raised by Relay For Life she gained a deeper appreciation for the efforts being made.

“That really resonated with me,” Lewis said.

The public is invited to join the fight against cancer by taking part in the 26th Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life activities Fridayat the Gilfillan Estate off of Minnesota Highway 67 between Redwood Falls and Morgan.

 The activities will take place from 4:30-11 p.m.

The meal will be from 5-7 p.m. for $7 per person. The menu is a barbecue or pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, baked beans, chips, pickles, cookie and beverage.   From 4:30-6:30 p.m. there will be cancer survivor registration. Those who register will receive a purple survivor shirt and be part of the 7:30 p.m. opening ceremony and survivor victory lap.      The children's and general silent auctions will start at 4:30 also.   At 7:30 the opening ceremony will take place, including a survivor victory lap, caregiver lap and luminaria ceremony.   Some of the other activities that evening will be a kids' zone with games, train rides, face painting, plus massages, bingo, ice cream and cotton candy.

Funds raised enhance opportunities for those who are battling cancer locally.

To learn more about Relay For Life and how to get involved, visit www.cancer.org.