A survivor’s story

As a cancer survivor and current cancer fighter, Bob Echelberger, Kamrar, is a dedicated volunteer who has been named Honorary Chairman for the 2016 Hamilton County Relay for Life on Thursday at West Twin Parks in Webster City.

Echelberger began his fight over two decades ago.

“I started this battle 22 years ago with prostate cancer and since that time, I’ve been able to keep it under control,” said Echelberger. “It will be something that I will have for the rest of my life”.

With the supervision of his local physician, Dr. Pierre Bernard, Echelberger sought treatment at Mercy Medical Center and Methodist Hospital in Des Moines.

“Now with two daughters who are nurses in Des Moines, where else do you think I’d go?” he jokes. “Like I had a choice!”

After his treatment, Echelberger tried to continue on with his life. That included family, activities and working at his career in construction.

But one day, all that changed.

“I went on working until one day I couldn’t make it into the house without my wife helping me get inside,” said Echelberger, who soon retired.

Throughout his battle, Echelberger has learned to rely on his wife, Clysta.

“She’s my eyes, my driver, my everything,” said Echelberger.

Since retiring, Echelberger became active in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and has faithfully attended every cancer walk over the past two decades except for the 2015 event.

“We had a family gathering so I had to miss it,” he confessed.

As in previous years, Echelberger is looking forward to the Hamilton County event.

“I think it’s a very nice program,” he said. “They are very supportive and I get to see so many old and new friends”.

While raising money for cancer research, the event has proven to be an uplifting experience for Echelberger as well.

“This has just been very good for me,” he said. “It makes me very appreciative for what I have”.

This year, Echelberger faces another hurdle. Recently he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and completed his final round of chemotherapy on June 7.

“I’m lucky,” said Echelberger, who has discovered a new insight brought about by his own challenges. “I have a great love of people and it makes me appreciate life a great deal. It has made me understand people and understand their circumstances.”