Opp cancer survivor to take on race

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 4, 2013

Many folks list losing weight, quitting smoking, getting out of debt and getting organized as their New Year’s resolutions.

Opp resident Tracey Nelson’s New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to run a 5K race.

Nelson, who has walked in several 5Ks, will be one step closer to her goal as she participates in PowerSouth’s Relay for Life fundraiser 5K Resolution Run/Walk on Sat., Jan. 12.

Nelson, who has worked at PowerSouth for 10 years, was diagnosed with invasive squamous cell carcinoma in September 2010. Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer.

Doctors caught it early and performed surgery the next month to rid Nelson of the cancer.

“It was a knot-in-the-stomach feeling when I was told I had a type of cancer that can metastasize and often spread to the lymph nodes,” Nelson said. “So, I can only imagine the feeling one has who faces the daily battle of treatments, doctor visits and the uncertainty of the unknown.”

Nelson said after more than two years being cancer-free, her aim is to promote cancer awareness to others.

“It touches everybody in some way, even if it’s not yourself,” she said. “I think people should take any kind of cancer seriously. I was lucky they caught it early, even though it was a small area on the surface, it was a large area underneath. It had grown tentacles and legs. It can be a scary thing even with something like that.”

Nelson said she’s been involved with the Relay for Life team for years.

“It’s majorly important to be involved,” she said. “I think that every individual counts toward that. Every dollar raised, even if it’s $1 raised or one little effort put toward it, you’re giving back to the fight.

“There’s no cure right now, but there may be a cure in the future,” she said. “That means somebody you love or somebody you know may not have to battle this one day. You might not have to watch them suffer.”

Nelson’s grandparents — J.P. Weeks and Lizzie Daugherty — fought and lost battles with cancer, she said.

When asked how it makes her feel to help with the Relay for Life effort, Nelson said it‘s rewarding.

“It makes me feel good to know that maybe in some small way, I’m going to be able to help somebody,” she said. “I don’t want anybody to suffer like my grandfather did or my grandmother did, or my friend (Renee Anderson of Opp) did.”

Nelson said she’s been doing a lot of walking and running to get ready for next week’s race.

“I still do a lot of walking for it,” she said. “I’ve done some 5Ks in the past with a friend of mine, and I’m actually looking forward to it.”

It’s not too late to register for the 5K Resolution Run/Walk.

Those interested can register the day of the race at Andalusia City Hall. The race begins at 9 a.m., but pre-registration, which starts at 8:30 a.m. on race day, is a suggestion.

Cost is $25, and the race will take place whether it rains or shines.

Nelson is married to Bruce, and has a 15-year-old son, Ben.