Editor's note: Articles about the Randolph County Relay For Life will be published throughout the week, leading up to Saturday's event.
One of the cancer survivors set to take part in Saturday's Relay For Life event in Randolph County is a lady who may be familiar to many Kroger customers in Elkins.
Vickie Isner, who will turn 59 this month, has worked at the local grocery store nearly 23 years. When she was diagnosed with uterine cancer the day before her 54th birthday, she found encouragement from her family, friends and church - as well as her co-workers and customers at Kroger.
Currently a cashier, Isner continued working throughout her cancer treatment. She said she took five-hour shifts and worked in the office during that time, and she made sure to be off on days when side effects from chemotherapy would make it too difficult for her to get out of bed.
"I ached all over," she recalled, although she said she was lucky some side effects weren't as bad as they could have been.
Isner said the initial diagnosis made her feel like she'd "been run over by a Mack truck. I was just so shocked."
After that shock wore off, she said she had a long talk with the Lord.
"I told Him that whatever His will was, that if I die or live, I would accept it."
She began writing in a journal throughout her experiences dealing with cancer, and she created a mini-scrapbook of photos, sayings and scripture that helped her stay full of hope.
Isner said many people in her life helped her as well, including her co-workers.
"I had lots of support. ... They had a cake walk and raised some money to help out with extra medical expenses," Isner said recently, recalling how much everything meant to her. "They got me about $1,000 from donations and the cake walk, so that was pretty good."
Her sister, Brenda Cunningham, also offered a great deal of support when Isner needed surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
"She took me to appointments - all over the place," Isner said, explaining she had surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where her nephew worked, and she was able to have her treatments at the Cancer Care Center in Elkins.
Isner participated in her first Relay For Life event in Randolph County in 2009, and she said she looks forward to walking in the survivors' lap every year, when folks line up to cheer everyone on.
"It makes you feel good," she said, adding another one of her favorite parts of Relay is the luminaria ceremony, where paper lanterns filled with lights are lined up to honor the lives of those touched by cancer.
Isner said she and her friend, fellow survivor Janice Kyle, go to Relay together.
"We spend the day and take in everything that goes on," Isner said. "You don't realize how many people (have had cancer) until we're all together - just all kinds of people."
Relay events take place throughout the United States and about 20 other countries. They serve as fundraisers for the American Cancer Society in an effort to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who lost their battles and help research ways to stop the disease.
The Randolph County Relay For Life event is set to begin at noon Saturday in the Town Square next to the Elkins Depot. Participants are welcome, and additional information is available online at www.relayforlife.org. Director Judy Ritchie is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-516-7059.