Relay touches woman's life in personal way

Glenda Thompson will walk as a cancer survivor, but she will do so in the memory of her sister-in-law.

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WALLA WALLA - Glenda Thompson has always supported the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.

Thompson, an insurance agent in her day job, has served as a Relay team captain a number of times and walked the track at Borleske Stadium for years.

She wanted to do her part in finding a cure, she explained.

"When I was young, I had a dear friend die from a brain tumor that was cancerous. It's a horrible, horrible disease."

In September, however, the fight became personal. Doubly so.

Thompson, 48, found a lump in her breast that was diagnosed as cancer. Ironic, she said, that the disease she had rallied against on behalf of others was now on her own doorstep.

Although heart and stroke issues shadowed her family tree, cancer never had.

At the same point in time, her sister-in-law was deep into her own battle that started with breast cancer.

Peggy Thompson was 42 and had four children at home when the cancer moved on to claim other parts of her body. Despite a courageous fight, the disease ultimately ravaged her liver and brain, Glenda said, stealing Peggy's life in March.

Glenda survived to walk the Relay for Life again this year, carrying the message she absorbed while getting treatment at Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center, she said - Cancer does not discriminate. "It doesn't care who you are, how old you are, how nice you are."

And this year, Thompson will take the Survivor's Lap, which starts the event at 6 p.m. on Friday.

It's something she hopes to do with Peggy's children, Glenda said. "I think it would be a great step of healing for them."

All proceeds from Relay for Life go to benefit local programs, including the Cancer Resource Center at Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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