Editor's note: Articles about the Randolph County Relay For Life will be published throughout the week, leading up to Saturday's event.
Elkins resident Jackie Bright cared for her husband through three bouts with cancer, beginning in 1987. One thing she never suspected was that she would one day fight her own battle with cancer. But in 2012, she was diagnosed with the disease.
"It was such a big surprise to find out that I had cancer," Bright said. "I am just glad we found it soon."
Cancer survivors Jackie Bright and husband Bob Bright celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Bright, who has had a long career in public and collegiate education and currently serves as a substitute teacher in the Randolph County school system, said she was working one day in October 2012 at Elkins High School, when she had a strange feeling. She said that her stomach was already swollen, and she thought she was suffering from diverticulitis.
"I didn't want to go to the hospital or the doctor because I knew they would put me in the hospital," Bright said. "So I went to Express Care to get checked out."
While at Express Care, Bright had an x-ray, got a prescription and an order to have a CAT scan.
"I went to the hospital to have my CAT scan, and learned they would have the results within 45 minutes following the scan," Bright said.
Bright said she learned that the CAT scan revealed she had a mass on her left kidney.
She sought treatment at West Virginia University Hospital in Morgantown from Dr. Mohamad Salkini, a urologist. He recommended a robotic surgery to remove the diseased part of her kidney. So this January, she underwent the 5-hour operation.
"I did not have to have any follow-up radiation or chemotherapy treatments," Bright said. "When they sent away the mass, it was cancer stage one."
Bright said she is thankful she decided to follow up with her symptoms.
"If I hadn't gone to Express Care that day, and if they had not ordered the CAT scan, I would never have known I had cancer," Bright said. "I feel very fortunate that they found my cancer, even though that is not what I went in there for."
Her children, Mary Bright Crowder and Rob Bright, and her husband, Bob, all helped her get through her illness.
"I really appreciate everyone from all of the different churches and organizations who prayed for me," Bright said. "I appreciate everyone who prayed, called me or sent me cards. They were so uplifting, and those people and the prayers and the great doctors are what brought me through this experience."
Bright said she and husband enjoy supporting and attending the Relay For Life.
"This year was my first for the survivors' breakfast," Bright said. "It was a great experience to see everyone who fought the battle with cancer and their caregivers. I hope everyone will come out Saturday in support of the Randolph County Relay For Life."
The Randolph County Relay For Life will be Saturday at the Elkins Depot. The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society to help raise money for cancer research.