Belton business owner promoting Relay for Life

Belton business owner Sally Smith, 59, is rallying to fight cancer from the doorsteps of her Main Street shop, Whistle Stop Antiques.

With the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in Belton at 4 p.m. Saturday, organizers have been meeting at Smith’s business in recent weeks to prepare for the six-hour fundraising walk.

“It’s going to be a time where we can celebrate, but also fight back against cancer,” said Luke See, a community manager for the American Cancer Society.

As an 11-year lung cancer survivor, Smith, a south Kansas City resident, has a special interest in Relay for Life.

“With lung cancer, usually five years is a huge mark. Ten years is even a greater mark,” Smith said.

Smith had no family history of lung cancer, but had been a smoker when she received a stage 3 lung cancer diagnosis in January 2003.

“(Smoking is) definitely one of the risk factors that you can eliminate, and I had not eliminated it at that point,” Smith said.

Smith underwent chemotherapy and had the lower half of her left lung removed.

Following her treatment, she became an advocate for cancer awareness — of all kinds.

“I like the fact that Relay for Life is for cancer — period. It doesn’t matter what type it is,” Smith said.”

Smith said she used the American Cancer Society’s website frequently during her battle with cancer.

She went to her first Relay for Life event about a year after her surgery.

“I could barely make it around the track,” Smith said. “I was still healing.”

As the years have gone by, Smith is able to spend multiple hours walking laps around the track during annual Relay for Life events around the Kansas City area.

This year, she is helping organize a “Friends of Main Street” team for the Belton event held at Southwick Stadium.

“Cancer is everywhere — even here on Main Street,” Smith said.

The American Cancer Society has set a $16,000 fundraising goal for the Belton event. Contributions can be made online at www.relayforlife.org or in person at Saturday’s event.

“I love seeing a community come together and fight against this deadly disease,” See said.

Anyone interested in participating in the event, or who is a cancer survivor and wishes to be honored, should contact Luke See with the American Cancer Society at 816-218-7275 or luke.see@cancer.org.