Speaker: Relay for Life matters


The 2019 Relay for Life was in full swing Aug. 3 at Twin Lakes Park. Whether participants were playing in the Splash park or the RC Demolition Derby fundraiser, everybody there had plenty of chances to have a blast.

Honorary Chairman Ellen Webb delivered the survivor’s speech, and her husband, Steve Webb, gave the caretaker speech.

“When we started on this journey,” he said. “I knew that everybody would learn my secret. That my wife is a whole lot tougher than I am.”

He described the helplessness that can come with being a caretaker, concluding with a quick story.

“We were watching some silly show, I wasn’t even half paying attention, and a woman was giving birth, and her husband was freaking out and didn’t know what to do,” recalled Steve Webb. “The doctor said ‘just hold her hand, and I’ll take care of the rest.’ I thought, maybe that’s what I can do.”

Ellen Webb spoke of her cancer journey, and what helped her through it.

“When I was first asked to be honorary chairman, I was hesitant,” she said. “I didn’t feel like my story was very special. But I thought, ‘maybe to someone else just starting to go through this, my story will bring them some hope. So I said yes.”

She recalls specifically when she discovered a suspicious lump in her breast. It was Feb. 16 and she was getting dressed at the time.

Webb’s thought at the time was if the lump was still present the following Monday it was something to check on. Her doctor also agreed it was something to look at. She described the months-long process of visiting doctors and eventually receiving a diagnosis.

“Then we’re at the oncologist, and he’s explaining everything very well, and I hope Steve’s getting it all, because I’m not hearing anything,” Ellen Webb said.

She spent the bulk of her time talking about her support system emphasizing the two things everybody with a cancer diagnosis needs are friends and family.

“That first day I had to let everybody know, and I have a big family,” she said. “I was really surprised how well the kids handled it. But probably the hardest thing was to tell my parents. I sat down with my mom, and that was the first time I completely lost it.”

Faith was also important to Ellen Webb as she confronted her cancer, acknowleding early on that God has got this. In addition to family and friends, her church family rallied around her.

“I found out I have more friends than I ever thought I had,” she said. “My church family was incredible, everybody needs one.”

She talked about a few of the stories that stood out to her. One of her friends created approximately 150 prayer rocks by painting an E on the stones as a reminder for people to pray for her.

“I still have people, friends, patients, even strangers, tell me that they have my rock and pray for me every night,” she said. “I have a 103 year-old patient who’s a sister with St. Mary’s. And when you have a 103 year-old nun bless you, you don’t know just how that feels.”

Toward the end, she brought her speech back to the Relay and why it matters.

“Research is so important,” Ellen Webb said. “Thanks to it, I’ve now been cancer free for two months. Fundraisers like this help with that.”

She ended with an appeal to anyone who feels alone.

“Don’t think you ever have to go through cancer alone, there’re so many people willing to walk with you,” she said. “You can even come and talk to me.”