Independence, Wis. (WEAU) Cancer touches nearly every life in some way. At an Independence volleyball match, a Relay for Life volunteer said they work tirelessly to find a cure in the hopes that someday no one will have to hear that diagnosis.
Tuesday night at the varsity game, the town met a girl who's family had to deal with the news she had cancer not once but twice. They put on a fundraiser called "Diggin' for a Cure" to honor her and to show support for all those affected.
She's a humble soul, with a huge heart.
Tracy Halama, her volley ball coach says, "she stands in the background, but today is her day to shine."
And in her 18 years, she's overcome more adversity than most three times her age.
"She's overcome so much," says her dad, Paul Gamroth.
18-year-old Caitlin Gamroth is a senior this year. Her senior picture shows a vibrant smile, proudly displayed in her mom's photo collection. But there's a picture in another frame, the same smile, but this time in a hospital bed where she would spend months of her life as a toddler.
Caitlin got leukemia at just 2 years old. She beat it once and her parents say she beat death several times.
"You had to have hope and prayers and fight it. You also have to have some luck," her dad added.
When the cancer came back at 4 years old, she had to fight it again with Chemo and more trips to Rochester.
"We only made that trip 200 times," he said.
Caitlin mounted a comeback with the same spirit her coach sees on the court.
"She never gives up. She has such a great attitude," said Halama.
On this night, she became a point of inspiration in front of her hometown crowd. Caitlin doesn't remember much about those days in the hospital and despite her lasting scars is ready for the future.
Caitlin says she wants to "get a job, get my license, get a house for myself."
She was given a survivor's medal during a ceremony before the game, but her coach says she gives everyone she knows something very important. Perspective.
"We all take our health for granted," Halama noted.
Caitlin has been in remission officially since 2005. Her parents say they leaned on the support of others during the ordeal and want to extend the same kind of help to families dealing with children who are fighting cancer too.
The fundraiser benefitted Trempealeau County Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.