At just 24, reality hit Keith Hansen like a truck.
Just after graduating from university in 1989, Hansen was diagnosed with cancer.
“At that time you’re young and bulletproof,” said Hansen.
“Thinking about it now it was a pretty quick reality check.”
Four months of aggressive chemotherapy and he was cancer free.
Now, he is the honourary chair of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Red Deer.
On Saturday, at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, Hansen was part of the kickoff for the annual event.
He talked about how cancer affected him and why it was a privilege to be the honourary chair.
“There’s no way I would be here if it wasn’t for the science, the people at the hospital and the fundraising,” said Hansen. “It’s a privilege.”
Also in attendance was a longtime Relay for Life team, Wally’s Waddlers.
The group has been involved since 2010 and in that time raised more than $55,000.
Wally a father and brother to some of the team members died from cancer in 2004. Ever since then, the team has had a blast being involved.
“Unfortunately the number of people we’ve lost to cancer is far too many,” said team member Diane Spoor, dressed in an inflatable duck.
“We buy luminaries for everyone, the list we have to buy is extensive.”
At the event, participants purchase luminaries to light the path they walk upon in honour of a loved one who died from cancer. Their team name was inspired by both the alliteration and the team joke about how they aren’t the most svelte team and end up waddling a fair amount during the night.
They have even adopted the duck theme for much of their fundraising. For donors they find, they give out little ducks that fit in the palm of a hand. Some donors collect sets, the team said they have hundreds ready to give out.