EUGENE, Ore. -- From the track at Willamette High School so many stories of survival would seem unexpected. But in the 20th anniversary of the Eugene/Springfield Relay for Life Friday and Saturday just about everyone has a story of survival.
When the signature event started in Lane County two decades ago, the fundraiser only had about 20 teams pounding the pavement fighting for a cure. On Friday, over 200 teams battled two things: heat and a hatred for one devastating disease: cancer.
Four-year-old Kadence Gibson is hardly at a loss for words.
Three years ago her mom wasn't sure if her daughter would ever be able to speak.
"There was that chance that she might come out and not be able to talk afterwards," said Kallee Gibson.
Kadence's parents rushed her to the hospital at age 9 months when doctors told them the unthinkable:
Kadence had a brain tumor.
"Just shock...it just happened in a second," Kadence's mom said of her initial reaction to the news.
"She had three major brain surgeries and a VP programmable shunt put in," Gibson said.
In the following months Kadence underwent chemotherapy in an effort to stabilize the tumor located at the base of her brain stem.
"One of my favorite parts when I was in chemo was there were a lot of toys, and there were colors and you could read books upstairs," said Kadence.
Now Kadence is healthy and happy.
"I don't really remember anything because I was so little," Kadence confessed with a smile.
Not being able to remember is a blessing in disguise for this bouncy, brown eyed girl who has been in remission for two years.
Over the weekend Kadence walked the Relay for Life with a group of kids with cancer, all members of the support group called "The Candelighters."
"Just keeping hope that she'll stay in remission...just enjoy our time with her that we have," said her mother.
But at just age 4, it's unlikely Kadence has even a clue the inspiration this child has given to cancer fighters and other survivors.