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The Jefferson County Relay For Life chooses Jefferson County people to honor during the Relay event.

The honorees are picked from various groups. Organizers choose one person who has lost the fight against cancer, one person who is currently fighting, and one who has completed treatment and is a current survivor.

The currently fighting honoree, or as she likes to say “survivor in training,” Minda Morton, is being honored this year, and Cherie Gaddis is the survivor being honored this year. This week, they share their stories and two more will be shared next week.

The Relay committee invites the community to join them on July 13 and 14, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to honor these people and also the many others who have lost the fight, are still fighting, or are currently living after treatment.

Fighting Back

Minda Morton

Minda MortonSince moving to Madras in 2004, my husband Taylor and I have lived on our ranch outside of town, where we raise cattle and hay.We also own several horses, some more useful than others, and quite a crew of rescued dogs and cats.

I have worked at the Jefferson County Public Health Department since 2011, as program coordinator for the Commission on Children and Families.

I am currently transitioning from that to work as the Jefferson County Early Learning coordinator and regional representative, Tobacco Prevention Education Program coordinator, and Healthy Communities Program coordinator.

I also teach a technical math class through COCC at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, which is part of the welding program.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Oct. 29, 2012, after a long-overdue mammogram, followed by ultrasound and a biopsy.

The next six weeks were a surreal blur of CAT scans, PET scans, biopsies, doctor appointments and more doctor appointments.

Like so many newly diagnosed patients, I also spent way too much time on the Internet, researching breast cancer and pretty much scaring myself half to death. One of the best pieces of advice I received from the ACS volunteer I spoke with at Bend Memorial Clinic was, “Don’t do that.”

All that time, I was secretly waiting for someone to tell me this was all a big mistake and they had called the wrong person with that diagnosis. But that didn’t happen, and eventually, my family and I have come to terms with the diagnosis and our “new normal. I am fortunate that my treatment plan is allowing me to continue my life with few side effects, and while I know that surgery is out there in my future, for now, I am enjoying both my work and my free time, family and friends.

This year, my family and I will participate in our first Relay For Life. We are looking forward to a fun couple of days, and are happy to be able to raise some funds for the American Cancer Society.

The ACS volunteers at Bend Memorial Clinic have been great mentors to us since the very beginning of this whole journey.


Cherie GaddisMy name is Cherie. To co-workers, friends, family, and my husband, I am Cherie Gaddis. To some I am known also as Cherie Sheffield, Madras High School.

To some I am Ham Perkins’ oldest daughter. To some I am Bernideen Perkins’ (Thornton’s) oldest daughter. To those who I have worked with for the last 14 years, I am “The purple lady.”

For those of you who do not know my story, I am a cancer survivor.

Since Oct. 3, 2011 — not quite two years, is my little score – yet, it’s two years that I have been able to tell my story, to reach and share with each and every one I can.

Yes, you do survive. Yes, you go for your checkups. Yes, you believe.

You believe in yourself and are thankful for those who are beside you to guide you through each step of this journey. Thank you all who have been beside me!

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