Relay for Life Ambassador shares her story of survival

Kim Pekar of Warriors Mark, Ambassador of Northern Blair County\’s Relay For Life, shared her experience of combating cancer at the program held at the Bellwood-Antis football field Friday night.
Thirty-nine-year-old Kim Pekar remembers it being Mother\’s Day 1999 when, after the family dinner, she asked her Mother to check the back of her throat.
“I had been feeling a lump when I swallowed for the past couple of weeks. Mom said she saw something and told me to get it checked out.” she said.
Three weeks later her doctor told her she didn\’t have tonsillitis but it might be lymphoma.
“I said you mean cancer?
“As he said yes, I could see his lips move but the words he spoke made no sense to me. My heart felt as though it had stopped beating and I truly felt I had stopped breathing.
“June 10, a day I will never forget, the day my life changed.
“You have cancer. We aren\’t sure exactly what stage or exact type it is the doctor said. There will be tests and once again I saw his lips move but yet heard nothing.”
Three week later she was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymhoa. It was an aggressive type and she needed chemotherapy and radiation.
“I was told if I decided not to go with the treatments I would only have 18 months at best, and I was 33 years old at the time,” said Pekar.
“I was married less than a year so there was no doubt in my mind what I was going to do. Whatever was necessary.
“From the start I had my mind set that this was not going to get the best of me. I tried my best to keep a positive attitude and my sense of humor and continue my life as normal as possible. Believe me, I had my moments of ‘why me’ and self doubt, but I knew I had to be positive. I am a strong believer in that God has a purpose for everything and it was my purpose to find something good out of this situation.
“It made my family closer and it made me realize I am a much stronger person than I ever realized. I have to say that modern medicine may have saved my physical body but God and these incredibly amazing people that are standing here with me today saved my spirit and my soul.
“Cancer is not something that just happens to an individual it also happens to the people closest to you. It happens to the mom who is so beside herself with grief and worry. The mom who would trade places with her baby girl if she could. The same woman who is a cancer survivor herself.
“It happens to the dad who sits in the waiting room for five hours during chemo treatments because he feels he needs to be able to do something.
“The husband who reassures his wife that she is still beautiful to him although she has no hair. He silences his own fears so he can be her rock of strength. The brothers and daughters who can offer their love and support. They are always there for a shoulder to cry on or to share some laughter.
“For each cancer survivor here tonight there are many family members and friends that I consider cancer survivors too. I applaud each and everyone of you. We need to continue the fight against this disease and find a cure once and for all.” Pekar said.
Pekar commended the efforts of the committees and all the participants in their efforts to raise money for research and medicines so that each year there are more survivors able to share their stories just as she had been honored to do.
De Carney of Bellwood served as Chairperson for this year’s event.
De introduced the various northern teams who participated in the two-day event including 4-H Tail Twisters with an Old McDonald theme; Martin Oil Company and The Old Woman in the Shoe; New Pig with Old MacDonald\’s Farm and St. Luke\’s Episcopal Church with the Old Woman in a Shoe.
Others included The Sisterhood; DelGrosso Foods; Dan Himes Construction; The Executives; the French Club; Logan\’s Valley Baptist Church; Lifesavers with 3 Blind Mice; Kranich\’s; B-A National Honor Society; Warriors for Life; Decker Construction; Andrea\’s School of Dance; Olivet Baptist Church and Sheetz.
Some of the entertainment included the 46th PA Regiment Band Logan Guard; a choir from St. Luke\’s Episcopal Church and the Riderless Horse which represented honor for those who have been taken from us as the battle to find a cure for cancer continues.
Following the candle lighting ceremony entertainment followed by One Lane Bridge Light Show.
The track around the football field was outlined by bags of candles designed by Tyrone elementary students. As darkness fell, the message of “hope” shown brightly in the night from lit candles as the day\’s program came to an end.
Pekar is the daughter of Karl and Barbara Palmer. Her husband, Paul, daughter and granddaughter were also present for the ceremony this past weekend.