Kubb has become like a lifeline for me over the past two years and the Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament on June 10, 2017, did not let me down. At a time in my life that has presented me with many challenges, this tournament gave me a goal to shoot for and hope for the future. It also gave me a great opportunity to enjoy the companionship of my family, old kubb friends, and new kubb friends, all while promoting two things very dear to my heart— kubb and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
My son, Christopher Jones, played in the tournament in 2016 and I was thrilled that my family dedicated a tribute king to me. “Survivor, Nancy, slayer of kings and cancer” is what it said. At the time I was in remission from stage three Non-Hodgkin Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, diagnosed in July 2015. I have been involved in my local (Monroe, Michigan) Relay For Life event for 18 years, several of those years as team captain and co-captain. I hoped that I would be able to join Christopher, along with my other son Bryan, at the next Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament, never suspecting I would again be a cancer warrior by the time that rolled around. When a routine follow-up CT scan in October 2016, monitoring my Lymphoma, showed tumors in my pancreas and liver, my world was turned upside down again. Further tests confirmed I had pancreatic cancer, and it was unrelated to the Lymphoma or the endometrial cancer that was diagnosed in August 2008 following a hysterectomy (I was blessed as that cancer was encapsulated and removed before I even knew I had it). Although it appeared we caught the pancreatic cancer early, I was already stage four, due to metastasis in the liver. That tough diagnosis knocked the wind out of me.
But I am a slayer of kings and cancer, so I could not let this get me down. I had a goal to play in the tournament to kick cancer’s butt and I was bound and determined to make it! Fortunately my tests, surgeries, treatments, etc. all fell into place and it looked like I would make my goal. Long story short, I had a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy on March 27. I overcame some bumps in the road along the way, but I made it to the 2017 Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament with my surgeon’s and oncologist’s blessings. My chemo treatment was worked around the tournament so I could be there. To put my determination into perspective, let me tell you that I was so weak and sick the Saturday before Kubbing to Kick Cancer that I used a wheelchair at my hometown’s Relay For Life. I was worried I was not well enough to make the trip to Minnesota, let alone be strong enough to play in the tournament.
Not willing to forfeit my hugs from Christopher and his wife, Abby, I continued with the planned trip with my son Bryan. The hug therapy was a great boost to me, and my sons and I arrived at the Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament ready to have some fun! My sons assured me it was okay to just watch, but I didn’t travel 700 miles to sit and watch. I managed to play the whole day. I knew things would be okay when I threw my first baton, an eight meter shot, and hit the kubb head on! We won the first game, too! That in itself was a huge thrill and boost to my energy level. Those of you who are addicted to kubb know the high you get from such an experience. That high carried me through the whole day, even with temps in the 90s and high winds. Nothing could take that away from me! The very best part was that I was playing on a team with my sons! Go team Kubbing Up With the Joneses!
I was on cloud nine! Fresh air, sunshine, meeting new kubb friends, seeing old kubb friends (Matt Green and Evan Fitzgerald, two of my early supporters who encouraged me at my first tournament in 2015 in Alanson, Michigan), playing my favorite sport with my favorite guys in the whole world… Could it get any better than this?
Guess what? It did get better! We took home trophies for third place in the Bronze Consolation Bracket! Two things were checked off my bucket list that day. I played in the Kubbing to Kick Cancer tournament and I won my first kubb trophy!
I have nothing but praise for the organizers of the tournament and all the people involved, from sponsors and donors, to players and supporters. They are doing an amazing thing for all who have been touched by this monster called cancer. I know I would not be here today if it were not for the advancements made in the fight against cancer made possible through fundraising dollars. I cannot fully express how much this tournament means to me. I feel blessed to have been a part of it this year and hope to make it an annual tradition.