Relay For LifeRelay For Life of McLean County is pleased to announce that local couple Molly LeMonnier and Adam Chandler have been selected as Honored Survivor and Honored Caregiver for 2017. This year’s 24-hour event will take place at Normal Community High School from 4p.m. Friday, June 23 until 4p.m. Saturday, June 24, and will again include a 5K Run Saturday morning.

Their Story: In December this year, it will be 12 years ago when LeMonnier, then in her late 20’s, considered doing a self-breast exam. Up until that time, it wasn’t something she considered doing. But one night, LeMonnier admits, “Something wasn’t right.” So she performed the exam to confirm what she was feeling.

“But this time, I felt a lump in my right breast,” LeMonnier said of that moment that changed her life. “I called the doctor right away and she got me in. That’s when it all began.”

What her fingers told her was verified by the doctors – LeMonnier had a solid tumor. While she went through tests to confirm if the tumor was cancerous, “she had a nice, long ‘Honey-Do’ list for me,” said husband, local broadcaster Adam Chandler. Knowing something from her time there would take a few days.

By the start of 2006, doctors confirmed the lump was cancerous and began LeMonnier’s treatment, with Chandler by her side. That treatment included eight sessions of chemotherapy followed by a month of radiation. A PET Scan showed LeMonnier to be cancer-free after that. By this time, a full year had gone by.

Having beaten the disease by the end of 2006, the couple wanted to start a family. “But the doctors said we needed to wait a year to get all the chemicals out of my body,” LeMonnier said. LeMonnier and Chandler abided by the medical request, and waited as asked. Once that year was up, they began trying to start their family, succeeding when their first child, a daughter, was born on April 21, 2008. The couple now has two daughters.

But also in 2008, LeMonnier had a reoccurrence of cancer which was diagnosed as Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Her doctors put her on a different drug this time, called Herceptin. Within a month of starting treatment with that drug, the cancer was gone. LeMonnier has been cancer-free ever since.

When she was diagnosed the first time, “it was tough to get though the first diagnosis because, y’know…I promised her parents, ‘I’m going to take care of your little girl’,” Chandler remembers. He said the cancer caused situations where “I can’t do anything to help her fight that battle. As a caregiver, you have to come to the realization you can’t physically or mentally do anything. The best you can do is be there to be their support.”

“When the doctors said Molly was cancer-free, it was as if this weight is lifted off you,” Chandler said. “That’s when we decided, ‘let’s live our lives,’ start a family, get a bigger house, travel more.”

LeMonnier’s advice to people whose cancer journey has just started or may be continuing: “Don’t second guess yourself and have a positive attitude.” Chandler said ACS was helpful through the battle, encouraging the couple to seek a second opinion, but the couple became strongly acquainted with Relay For Life in 2006 when they participated in their first event.

“Relay For Life has given us a way to explain to our daughters that while Molly has beaten the cancer, we understand that the money raised helps benefit with developing new drugs like Herceptin,” Chandler said.

LeMonnier explains, “At Relay, I look around and talk and share with other survivors, particularly those in their 70s and 80s and that has given me hope.” She added she made it past 40 and hopes to make it past 50 and keep walking laps just like the people from other teams on the track next to her.

“Money raised at this Relay event, and other Relay events will help continue to do just that,” said Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society, based in Peoria. “We want to have more teams formed and come out to have fun and join the cause. We want to see people come out for the 5K event, have fun and share in the joy of stories like Molly’s and Adam’s. Molly received a new medication as part of her treatment because there were dollars available donated by residents who cared.”

Relay For Life of McLean County hopes to raise $300,000 in 2017 and have at least 85 teams and 400 survivors and 400 caregivers at their annual Relay event. Relay For Life of McLean County will be held from 4 p.m. June 23 to 4 pm. June 24, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

In 2016, Relay For Life of McLean County raised $297,606. Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $7.6 Million to fight cancer. We are looking for more teams to join us in the fight!

Relay For Life of McLean County volunteer leadership and staff would like to thank our Presenting Sponsor, State Farm Insurance, and our Gold Sponsors, Country Financial and Avanti’s Italian Restaurant, along with all of the other sponsoring businesses and organizations for their dedication to helping us win the fight against cancer.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

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