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Nobles County Relay for Life slated for Friday

WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Johnson will never forget June 5, 2005. It was the first time Johnson learned about multiple myeloma, and doctors told him he'd be living with it for the rest of his life, which was expected to be three to five years from diag...

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Jeff and Sharon Johnson are co-honorary chairs of the 21st annual Relay for Life of Nobles County. Jeff has been battling multiple myeloma and Sharon has been his caregiver since being diagnosed in 2005. (The Globe/Alyssa Sobotka)

WORTHINGTON - Jeff Johnson will never forget June 5, 2005.

 

It was the first time Johnson learned about multiple myeloma, and doctors told him he’d be living with it for the rest of his life, which was expected to be three to five years from diagnosis.

 

Aiden Remme has also been putting up a fight. The Brewster 5-year-old was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, which doctors guess began at 6 months old.  

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Aiden, Jeff and Jeff’s wife, Sharon, will be honored during this year’s 21st Annual Relay for Life of Nobles County, slated for 5 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Nobles County Fairgrounds in Worthington. The honorary chairs will share their stories at the American Cancer Society fundraiser’s opening ceremonies at approximately 6:30 p.m.

 

Jeff said the focus of his message won’t be about his diagnosis, but about the overwhelming support and strength the community has given him.

 

“Thank you just doesn’t seem enough. I’m still amazed how many people I don’t really know that came up to me and told me ‘I’m praying for you,’” the Worthington native said.  

 

The Johnson family had prepared themselves for the three-to-five year life expectancy. Jeff spent a lot of time researching multiple myeloma before he decided enough was enough.

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“I said, ‘Sharon, I’m not going to read anymore,’” he said. “I don't need to know statistics. I trust my doctors, absolutely.”

 

Now, 12 years later, Jeff has a new perspective on life and enjoys each day.  

 

“I didn’t think I’d get to see my boys graduate from high school,” he said, grateful that with the conclusion of last spring’s graduation he got to see all three of his boys walk across the stage to receive their diploma.

 

While the rest of his life will include continuous chemotherapy and radiation, the Worthington jeweler remains optimistic, having just started a new treatment that has become available within the last year.

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“It’s very encouraging to me,” he said of the progress in medicine.

 

Remme is also responding well to the new treatment - the strongest he can receive - he began in December.  

 

“So far everything is working,” said Tracy Remme, Aiden’s mom.

 

Aiden’s journey began when he was 2½ years old. Specialists attributed the cause of his gagging to overly large tonsils. He had them removed.

 

His walking was also of concern, especially after his younger brother began making more progress.

 

After multiple foot tests did not produce any answers, one of the doctors determined the probable cause to be neurological. Aiden had an MRI, which provided the family with the devastating news.

 

Remme’s story will be shared as a video throughout the entire evening Friday, and will include an update from his scans from earlier in the week.  

 

For more information on this year’s relay, visit Relay For Life of Nobles County, Minnesota on Facebook. To volunteer, contact Poppema at 360-4550.

Schedule of events 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Setup

5 p.m. - Team campsite sales and food stand opens. Sports-themed lap.

5 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Silent auction.

6 p.m. - Disney-themed lap.

6:30 p.m. - Opening ceremonies, including introduction of co-chairs, corporate sponsors and honorary survivors. Presentation of survivors, survivor’s lap with butterfly release, caregiver’s ceremony and walk and team introductions will follow.

8 p.m. - Holiday-themed lap.

9 p.m. - Superhero-themed lap.

Dusk - Moment of silence and luminary lighting ceremony.

10 p.m. - Crazy hat and hair lap.

11 p.m. - Glow lap.

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Aiden Remme, 5, of Brewster is one of this year's Relay for Life of Nobles County honorary chairs. Remme was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016. (Special to The Globe)

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