Janet Oursler is 10 years out from her breast cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2004. She had a lumpectomy in December of that year, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
“That was a difficult year,” she said. “My oncologist kicked me out this year at my 10-year checkup. He said he didn’t want to see me again. That was good news.”
Oursler remains vigilant about symptoms and continues to provide vocal reminders to other women about self-examinations, mammograms, and checkups.
“I don’t mind nagging anyone to do what they need for early detection,” she said.
She also contributes to the fight against cancer by participating in Marion County Relay for Life.
“My youngest daughter, Melissa, put together a team in 2005. She was living in Salina and got a group together to walk in my name,” Oursler said. “I went and watched them, but I didn’t participate myself.”
By 2006, Oursler felt well enough to try it on her own and signed up for the Marion County relay. She gathered a group and walked with the group the night of the relay.
“I had a team every year for five more years,” she said. “Then in 2012 I joined another team, and last year I didn’t participate at all. But it is a good cause, and I decided to try again this year.”
Teams used to be limited to 15 members, but rules have relaxed and teams can have any number. She has begun asking friends and relatives to be a part of her relay team.
“Sometimes it is hard to ask people to sponsor you. It is hard to ask them for money, especially year after year,” she said. “But it is a good cause, and cancer is a disease that can strike anyone anytime.”
Team members raise money through pledges from their own friends and relatives. Prizes are available for team members who reach various fundraising thresholds.
The walk this year will be 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 18 at Marion Stadium. It will be canceled in case of bad weather.
While it appears Oursler’s personal battle with cancer is over, she believes she should continue the fight for others who find themselves facing the disease.
A couple of years ago, Oursler took an extra precaution for her two daughters and three granddaughters. She did necessary testing and background work to track family genetics and see whether the type of breast cancer she had might indicate greater risk for family members.
“One of my sisters had breast cancer also, so we thought there might be a reason to think it was hereditary,” she said. “But the testing showed the genetic marker was not there.”