SHERIDAN — Michelle Lagory is a soft-spoken woman who tucks her hair behind her ear carelessly. Dressed in a baggy Relay for Life T-shirt, she prepped a fake board game activity that she led as a team captain at the annual Relay for Life fundraiser Saturday.
If someone had bumped into her at the supermarket, they wouldn’t have known that her long hair symbolizes resilience, and that her petite stature is strong. They would have missed the grit and tenacity of a warrior who slayed a beast: breast cancer.
After volunteering for nine years at Relay for Life, Lagory was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in 2011. Despite taking recommended precautions consisting of exams and mammograms, her nurse practitioner had found a lump that would sentence her to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy eight years ago.
“I thought I was pretty in touch with my body, but after she found it, it was like I lost total control,” Lagory said. “I never would have thought I would have cancer.”
Lagory got involved with the fundraiser in 2002 nearly a decade ago when a friend’s 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. When she first started fundraising, the minimum goal of $100, which was once a daunting task, has now become a rite of passage for Lagory.
“I’m kind of an introvert and I hate asking people for money so I’m not the best fundraiser,” Lagory said. “But I’ve found it pretty easy to raise $1,000 a year because people are just so generous.”
Lagory’s empathy fuels her hard work and deep understanding of the meaning behind the purple ribbon and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“She’s always willing to do different projects; she’s a great fundraiser, and the best advocate for survivors,” Michelle Jensen, a member of the event leadership team, said in regard to Lagory’s efforts.
As a survivor, Lagory doesn’t let the topic of cancer weigh down the celebration of life that Relay for Life embodies. The fundraiser has enabled a scary topic such as cancer to become normal for fighters, caregivers and survivors, even if it’s only for a day, Lagory said.
Sheridan Relay for Life hosted 14 relay teams and nearly 300 community members. The event included a dinner at The Hub on Smith for survivors and caregivers, a Luminaria ceremony and a glow run. They estimated to have raised $45,000 for the American Cancer Society according to Laura Dalles, a member of the event leadership team.