Carol Jackson was supposed to meet me at the registration table for cancer survivors.
I had never met her, so as she asked, I sat in the corner of a small room at this weekend's Relay for Life in Moon, waiting for a woman wearing a "cancer survivor" hat.
In addition to a hat, the woman I was about to meet has two kids and five grandchildren. She has a husband named Bill and an antique business. She also has had a lumpectomy, daily radiation treatment, and apparently, the tendency to always be moving forward.
“Are you the reporter?” a young volunteer asked. “Carol’s already down on the field, she asked me to come find you.”
Leaving the room, I had a vantage point of the entire Joe Walton Stadium at . Nearly 400 people filled the university's football field at this weekend's Relay for Life. The annual American Cancer Society event features sponsored teams of walkers who raise money for cancer research, while celebrating the impact of their work.
Even amid the tents and bustling relay participants, it wasn't hard to spot Carol Jackson. At the center of the festivities on the 50 yard-line stood a woman in a bright pink hat.
“This is about life," Jackson said. "This is about moving forward."
Jackson has been restoring things all her life. She worked in the antique business for 20 years, and she and her husband revived a Burgettstown ranch home. When a doctor found a cancerous spot on her left breast, she already knew how difficult recovery would be.
Ovarian cancer killed her mother years ago, but Jackson, 72, said she made use of the hard lessons from that battle to overcome her own.
“She still had a lot of life ahead of her,” Jackson said. “You can’t be afraid to go to the doctor. I went to the doctor every year, and was lucky and caught mine early.”
Jackson decided early on that she wouldn’t dwell on her diagnosis. She and her husband moved out of Pittsburgh to the house in Burgettsown and worked on it while Carol went through her daily radiation treatment and a lumpectomy.
“The biggest issue is the psychological pressure,” said her husband, Bill. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. Carol got better, but a lot of people aren’t so lucky.”
Now fully recovered and partially retired, Carol Jackson most enjoys spending time with her family. She's also taken on a new restoration project: A rescue dog named Lucky.