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Living with the 'new normal'

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Event honors cancer survivors, raises over $70,000

By Shannon Brock

Paul Gill has learned to face the fact that life after cancer is not the same as life before it. But Gill is OK with his new normal.

As an eight-year survivor of cancer, Gill encouraged others attending Friday night’s eighth annual Relay for Life to learn to live with their new normal as well.

Gill said he decided to accept the fact that he has cancer and have a positive attitude about it.

“I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” he said.

Gill was diagnosed with blood cancer in March 2001. When diagnosed, doctors gave him until November. But eight years — and three recurrences — later, he’s still sharing his survival story.

Gill said he sets goals, hoping he will make it to each one. He and his wife, Marva, renewed their vows in early 2002, and he’s already surpassed his 50th birthday.

Gill reminded the other survivors in attendance that they had a right to be angry, “but you have to find a way to get over it.”

Faith is the number one thing in Gill’s life, he said, and he approaches every day with a positive attitude.

“If I awake in the morning, it’s a good day,” he said.

Gill said his new normal has come with new limits and he knows he shouldn’t exceed them.

“Nothing is so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to many tomorrows.”

Theresa Blevins, a three-year survivor of kidney cancer, also shared her story at the event.

Blevins said it was a miracle that her cancer was found by accident. She was having trouble while training for a mini marathon and a CT scan at the emergency room discovered her softball-sized mass.

“There is no greater healing power than God, your family and your friends,” she said.

This year’s event had a combined 983 years of cancer survival represented.

Over 20 teams participated, raising more than $70,000 ­— a total that is expected to grow as more teams turn in their money.

Darla Renner and Pam Ware were given volunteer of the year awards, Joelle Sprague was awarded a scholarship from the American Cancer Society and all of Anderson County’s cancer survivors in attendance were given medals for their achievement.

E-mail Shannon Mason Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.