Living with cancer, thanks to research

Mary and Lew Trumper have captained a Relay team since its beginning in 1994.

Mary Trumper couldn't say “no” when Keith and Patty Warner put a call out for volunteers at their church. They were starting a White Bear Lake Relay for Life event to support cancer research and needed people to help. It was 1994. Trumper has been involved every year since — with husband Lew, of course.

Twenty-seven years ago, Mary, now 83, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Survival rate back then was about 50-50. Mary joined a research trial using a drug called Tamoxifen and she became a survivor.

Five years ago, her breast cancer returned. Doctors put Mary on a new drug called anastrozole. “I take a little pill every day and here I still am,” she said, again crediting research for the fact she is alive today to still play bridge and go fishing at the cabin.

The Trumpers typically raise about $3,000 during Relay for Life. Mary sells luminaries to light the track at South Campus and solicits sponsorships from White Bear Boat Works and the Vadnais Heights Culver's. Venburg Tire supported their team for 23 years.

Originally called Trumpeting Against Cancer, their team name recently morphed into Strides Against Cancer. Their grandchildren were active participants when they were young; six of them donated hair for Locks of Love during the event.

The Trumpers met the Warners through St. Mary of the Lake Church and attended the very first meeting on Relay. It attracted about 15 parishioners. They've lived in White Bear Lake for 56 years. Mary had never heard of Relay for Life then. Now, she's hooked. “I think God tells me I need to do this,” she stated. “It's a great support group.”

Debra Neutkens

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