TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Breast cancer kills thousands of people each year.
This upcoming weekend, participants in Toledo will celebrate the ever-growing number of breast cancer survivors at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Linda Jacobs is just one of them. Her daughter, Lorie Gater, remembers spending a lot of time as a child at Lucas County's first campground, now called Twin Acres. Lorie's grandparents, and Linda's in-laws, owned it.
"Oh, gosh, I loved to come and see grandma. And swim in the pond and go to the store and get candy, that was my favorite," remembers Lorie.
Now Lorie helps her parents, Woody and Linda Jacobs, operate Twin Lakes.
"My kids grew up here because my in-laws had it. And my grandkids are growing up here," said Linda.
Woody & Linda were childhood sweethearts in the truest sense. They remember meeting each other at the Swanton Coliseum roller-skating rink. And Woody recalls telling his best friend, "I'll end up with her." And that he did.
Their marriage, their family and their life in the beautifully forested area near Oak Openings west of Whitehouse seems idyllic.
That was until 10 years ago, when Linda found a lump in her breast. Her doctor ordered a mammogram that found two more. A biopsy later revealed an aggressive form of breast cancer.
"When I first got the diagnosis, that's the first thing you think of, 'I don't want to die'," recalls Linda.
But her doctors assured her she wouldn't die from this. From that point on, Linda believed, too.
She says a cancer diagnosis is hard on those closest to you.
"It was awful. It felt like somebody punched you, right in the gut," said Lorie.
Her dad Woody recalls having to contemplate losing his wife, but refusing to dwell on that possibility.
"Sure, I did. And I did not dwell on it. Ever. I stayed away from that."
Lorie says the family all believed Linda could beat her cancer. And Linda led them through treatment --- a mastectomy, chemotherapy, five years of tamoxifen.
Remembering that journey, Woody says "She was a great patient. Not that she didn't have bad days. But she was always upbeat." That was ten years ago.
It was the way Linda faced her battle that prompted Lorie to nominate her to be the Race for the Cure's "In Celebration Of" honoree last year.
"Because after she got through that dark time, she came out on the other side even stronger and better," said Lorie.
The Jacobs' campground family rallied around her, too. And still does. From a simple collection jar in the camp store, to a huge classic car show held every year.
Their team, "Camping for a Cure", now has more than 50 members strong. It seems your "family" doesn't have to be related.
And the nomination, which got no response last year, produced a phone call and an invitation this year.
"And I was completely blown away and of course, then I'm thinking 'I have to tell her.' I didn't tell her at all," said Lorie.
At first, Linda said "no way", feeling that there were many more-deserving women out there. But her family asked her to re-think her decision --- that the honor was for more than just her.
"I'm being recognized as a survivor. So it's not just me that this is all about, it's about everyone out there who has ever had this disease and is here to say I've beat it," said Linda.
She says she wants to represent all survivors.
Meanwhile, back at the campground, come next June, Linda's grandson will get married, right by the pond. And on that same day Woody and Linda will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It's the same day on which Linda's mom had gotten married.
"And we're just kind of keeping it all in the family and just passing it down from one generation to another. And i just think it's a wonderful gift," said Linda.
A wonderful gift and so is Linda's story. A story of survival, like hers and so many others, is a story well worth celebrating.