Nothing is impossible

Jackie McKee

Relay for Life silent auction is April 4, 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m., Dorsey Gym

Cancer has affected Jackie McKee, a compliance specialist with Columbia College’s Division of Adult Higher Education, throughout her life.

When she was 5 years old, her kindergarten teacher passed away from the disease. McKee doesn’t remember anyone using the word “cancer” — Mrs. LeCrone was sick, then one day she was gone. She never returned.

McKee moved from St. Charles County to Ashland, Mo., after junior high. There she got to know Amy O., an animated cheerleader with a ready smile and long blonde hair.

Amy O.
One day an ambulance came to school and took Amy away. The students were shocked when they were told what was wrong with their classmate: she had a brain tumor.

McKee’s grandfather was diagnosed with both lung and prostate cancer.

A malignant melanoma was found on her mother’s skin. Luckily, both grandfather and mother have beaten the disease and are active and healthy.

These stories, shocking as they are, are not rare among Columbia College’s Relay for Life team, which puts on numerous events annually to raise money for cancer awareness and research. Click here for Columbia College’s Relay for Life page.

Relay for Life will host a silent auction on April 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Dorsey Gym on the Columbia College main campus. This year’s theme is Nothing Is Impossible, and anyone can attend and bid. See the campus map.

The auction will feature baskets from different main campus departments, such as A Romantic Night In (Academic Affairs), Going to the Movies  (Adult Higher Education), Alumni Items  (Alumni Relations), Easter Basket  (Faculty Association), Mystery Lover’s Kitchen (Stafford Library) and Time for BBQ! (Student Affairs), plus gift certificates and sports memorabilia.

The participation of Columbia College’s far-flung Nationwide Campuses gives this year’s auction a true cosmopolitan flavor. Witness the following baskets:

  • Chicago Cubs World Series Basket - - Nothing is Impossible! (the Cubs last won in 1908), courtesy of two Columbia College Illinois campuses
  • Everything is Bigger in Texas, courtesy of, of course, the Fort Worth campus
  • A Day at the Beach, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Heart Health – Don’t be a Murray! Salt Lake, Utah (What’s a Murray? Attend the auction and find out.)
  • Sunny San Diego
  • Cardinals, St. Louis

These are just a few examples from over 25 entries.
McKee, who will be graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with minors in biology and business, doesn’t live life in fear of cancer even though, she says, no one is truly immune.

“That’s the scary part about cancer,” she says. “You never really know when or why. It seems to strike anyone, anytime … I try to live healthy and encourage loved ones to be healthy, too.”

“That’s what this [the auction] is about — raising awareness, contributing to not living in fear.”

McKee and another Relay team member, Misty Bush, director of compliance, Adult Higher Education, are currently in training for a half marathon in late May. Bush will be raising money for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation and McKee will be raising money for the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides comfort, care and lodging to sick children and their families.

As for Amy O., she spent more than a year at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, underwent two bone marrow transplants and suffered two strokes. But she has bounced back to attend the Columbia College Nursing Program for a semester, work part-time at a supermarket and begin to date.  She’s about as normal as a 24-year-old can be.

“She’s funny,” says McKee. “Her hair started to grow out and she cut it all off again. She embraced her short hair.”