Rachel Kelleher was 29 years old when she discovered she had a rare cancer in her appendix.
After multiple surgeries and treatments, the young mother was elated to discover she was cancer-free a year later.
Then, her diagnosis took a turn for the worse when doctors discovered that the cancer had spread first to her abdomen and then to her lungs.
The Celebrate Everything Relay For Life of Tri-Town team includes the friends and family of Rachel Kelleher, a cancer survivor. From left are Kelleher and her siblings, Holly Shaner, Neil Shaner, Rachel Kelleher, Adam Shaner, Megan Shaner, Sarah Shaner and Brandi King.
The Celebrate Everything Relay For Life of Tri-Town team poses for a photo during last year’s event.
Now 33, Rachel and her husband, Matt, and their two children, Madison, 8, and Connor, 5, moved from Kentucky to Montoursville to be near her large family.
She created the Relay For Life team Celebrate Everything after receiving an inspirational plaque from a friend that read: Until further notice, celebrate everything.
Her Relay For Life of Tri-Town team began last year and had about 25 team members and 60 participants - all friends and family members, including her parents, Keith and Kathryn Shaner, of Hughesville.
Last year, the team received the top new fundraising team purple sneaker award from the American Cancer Society for raising nearly $8,000, according to Ellen Bokeko, income development representative at the Williamsport unit of the American Cancer Society.
This year, Kelleher set her sights high and is hoping for $10,000, all money that will benefit the American Cancer Society's mission and programs.
Part of her fundraising includes Facebook solicitations, along with selling T-shirts printed by her uncle and cousin, who own Susquehanna Valley Sportswear.
Her team also will hold bake sales, a Zumba-thon at the end of May and have donation cannisters in area businesses. Her team also will participate in the yard sale during the Tri-Town Relay on June 2.
During the event, she plans to have a silent auction with baskets donated by local businesses. She also received a large corporate sponsorship from EXCO Resources, LLC.
"Everyone's got their own connections," she said.
Kelleher said forming the Relay team was a great way for her extended family to offer their support to her.
She said her large extended family also supports her father's mom, the late June Shaner, known affectionately by the grandchildren as "Nam," who was a 40-year breast cancer survivor before passing away two years ago.
Because Kelleher worked in cancer care as a genetic counselor before her diagnosis, she knew all too well about the services and programs offered by the ACS.
"The American Cancer Society provides so much for people - I know so many people who have used their services," she said. "The support groups for families are really important."
Kelleher said she wants people to come to the event, even if they are not part of a team, just to show support and take advantage of the many events the teams will offer.
The Tri-Town Relay will be held from 4 p.m. June 1 to 4 p.m. June 2 on the Hughesville High School track.
Those interested in supporting Kelleher's team or who would like to buy a shirt may contact her through her public blog, celebrateeverything1.wordpress.com.
"Come out and walk the survivor lap," she said. "It's really emotional, every lap feels like a victory lap."
Kelleher said there are many reasons people participate in Relay For Life, considering that an individual's lifetime risk to be diagnosed with cancer is one in three.
Her team T-shirts, which were designed by her sister's boyfriend, includes the quote: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."
"Last year, we all were wearing our T-shirts and it started to rain. We all put up our umbrellas," she said. "I looked around and we all laughed as we put down our umbrellas and started dancing in the field. As the moment was captured, I thought, 'this is perfect for our team.' "