Learn more about the Realy for Life at KVAL.com/Relay
EUGENE, Ore. - At the age of 44, Susie Hager was focused on her career at the Lane County Jail as a corrections officer.
Then one day she noticed a lump in her breast, which led her to her doctor's office.
"The mammogram came back clear, so I didn't worry about it for a while," Hager said.
The lump didn't go away.
She went back to the doctor's office - and life for Hager took a sudden turn.
"He said 'you could be one of the lucky ones' and I just held on to that," she said. "I could be one of the lucky ones. I held on to that the whole time."
Hager had cancer.
"I finally got the right tests that showed that I actually did have cancer. I had to have surgery, I had chemotherapy, I had radiation," she said.
Once she was done with chemotherapy, she turned to the American Cancer Society in Lane County and took part in Relay For Life.
"As it turned out I had been to the relay the summer before I was diagnosed," she said. "Immediately all I thought about when I got cancer was I want to be in that survivor's lap. I wanted one of those purple shirts. I wanted to be a part of it."
And that is what she has done for the past 17 years. Hager, a breast cancer survivor, is now captain of the Step Sisters, a team of 15 women that includes 4 other survivors.
"You look around and you see hundreds and hundreds of people that are just like you," Hager said. "You think you're special because you had cancer. You're just one of hundreds."