July 27, 2017 09:04 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- The goal of the Freeborn County Relay for life is to bring awareness to people battling cancer and to raise $70,000 for research.
This year's honorary chair for the event is Al Batt.
"I think there's a power and a magic in telling a story,” Batt explained, “whether it's a story of good things that have happened in your life or bad things."
And these days, Batt is telling his most powerful story ever.
“I went down for a routine annual physical, got a colonoscopy, and after it the doctor said you are in remarkably good health except for one thing, you have cancer."
That was last December.
"I'm a story teller,” Batt said. “I've made my living with words. All of a sudden I had no words."
Today, Batt is in the middle of a clinical study that has already involved 288 hours of chemotherapy and surgery to remove a rectal tumor.
"Now I'm doing another 288 hours of chemo, and then I have surgery again."
And Friday night, Batt will also serve as honorary chair for the Freeborn County Relay for Life.
"One of the hardest parts of this is I speak for a living, and I had to cancel 47 talks. I've never canceled one in my life. Seventeen days in the hospital, I have active grandchildren, 29 ball games I missed. As a grandparent you know how painful that is, it's a dagger in the heart," he explained.
“The doctor was very honest, he said there's going to be nothing easy about this, there are going to be days you say why am I going through all this, but it's because I want to talk at those 47 places I missed. I want to see 529 ball games with my grandkids, and that's why I'm going through all this,” said Batt.
"It touches everybody, it doesn't matter, male, female, old, young, unfortunately nobody is immune to cancer, and Al is a great community face for us," said Robyn Joel, who’s on the Freeborn County Relay organizing committee.
“And maybe when I tell somebody this story they will go get a screening, maybe they'll just go see their doctor,” Batt said. “Maybe a good thing will come out of it, at least that's my hope."
That's what good friend Randy Chirpich called it when he sent this photo to me. It's the caterpillar of a white-lined sphinx moth. I start seeing them in July as they feed upon willow, apple, evening primrose and common purslane.