Editor's note: This is the last in a series of articles designed to highlight local cancer survivors who are taking part in today's Randolph County Relay For Life.
Elkins resident and breast cancer survivor Vickie Plum said she always stops to thank people wearing pink breast cancer awareness ribbons.
"I always tell people that I am a cancer survivor and I am grateful for their support," Plum said.
Plum's fight with cancer began in 2006 when she found a painful lump while performing a self exam.
"I immediately went to my doctor, Caren Thompson," she said. "Dr. Thompson sent me to be checked at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown."
While in Morgantown, Plum had a mammogram, a needle biopsy and PET scan that confirmed she had cancer.
She had a lumpectomy and removal of several lymph nodes.
"Of the seven lymph nodes removed, two tested positive for cancer," Plum said.
During her illness, surgery and recovery, her daughter Jessica and husband Dale helped take care of her.
After her surgery, Plum had 33 radiation treatments and also traveled to Morgantown for six months of chemotherapy treatments.
"My mother and father drove me to each of my Morgantown appointments and stayed with me during the treatments," Plum said. "Each treatment took three to four hours and I was very fortunate and thankful they were there for me."
In addition to her family, Plum said many others in the community helped her through her struggle.
"I had the support and prayers of so many friends," she said. "The Elkins Volunteer Fire Department and my employer, Youth Health Services, were among many who helped out and were very generous."
Plum said she feels it's important for people to take an active part in checking themselves for cancer.
"Do your self exams," she said. "Inform your doctor if you have changes, signs, symptoms or a family history of cancer."
In Plum's case, her family knows the tragedy of a loss from cancer.
"My brother, Donnie Arbogast, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010," Plum said. "Sadly, he only lived 23 days after his diagnosis."
Plum said she remembers the first time she made the cancer survivor lap at the Randolph County Relay For Life.
"I was walking and I looked at my family watching me from the sidelines," Plum said. "They were all so happy for me and crying. I will never forget how wonderful it felt to have so many people who love me and how great it was to still be sharing my life with them."
This year, Plum is celebrating the birth of her first grandson, Leeland James Shockey.
"I am so fortunate to be a cancer survivor and so thankful for the help and support I received along my journey," she said. "I help other cancer patients who are newly diagnosed and remind them to keep their spirits up, and encourage people to help any way they can with the fight to beat cancer."
The Randolph County Relay For Life begins at noon today at the Elkins High School track. Everyone is encouraged to attend.