Prairie Village resident Donna Nealey remembers the exact time the phone rang.
It was 8:03 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, 2000. Her doctor was on the line. He was calling to tell her she had lung cancer.
“You never forget that call,” she said.
Against the odds — with lung cancer having among the highest mortality rates of any forms of the disease — Nealey has survived. It hasn’t often been pleasant. It hasn’t been a perfect miracle. She still deals with chronic pain the came about after the surgery. And there is always the fear that the disease could return.
But Nealey’s story serves as beacon of hope to those who were like her when she first learned of her diagnosis in 2000 — coping with the realization they are in a fight for their lives. And for that reaseon, Nealey’s hoping to be a positive presence for people currently battling cancer at the second annual Prairie Village Relay for Life, which is scheduled for this Saturday.
“I hope to go — I can’t be out very long in the heat, but I want to be there,” she said. “You see so much support. It means a lot.”
In the event’s first year, they had 90 walkers and raised $12,000. This year, organizers are hoping to raise $15,000.
The event begins at 11 a.m. at Prairie Village’s Franklin Park with the opening survivors’ lap at 11:15. The luminaria walk is scheduled for around 8:30 p.m.
Anyone who would like can come to the event and register Saturday, says organizer Gay Garrett.