Rows of paper stars dotted the window of the Dodge City Middle School library earlier this month, hanging underneath a sign announcing "Cancer Awareness Week."

    Many of the stars bore the names of people who were either battling cancer or had lost the fight. On other stars, people had written comments like "Help beat cancer!" or "Let's raise more money."


    Rows of paper stars dotted the window of the Dodge City Middle School library earlier this month, hanging underneath a sign announcing "Cancer Awareness Week."
    Many of the stars bore the names of people who were either battling cancer or had lost the fight. On other stars, people had written comments like "Help beat cancer!" or "Let's raise more money."
    The stars were part of a campaign by Marcy's Lucky Ladybugs, a team of fourth-and eighth-grade students who banded together with some adults this year to spread the word about cancer. Their goal: Raise money for the fight against cancer and promote the upcoming Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer research and advocacy.
    The team is named for Dodge City resident Marcy Taylor and her love of ladybugs, and its work was inspired by her battle against cancer.
    Taylor's daughter, Kari Keahey, said her work with the team had taught her the value of life.
    "It just like really makes you stop and think about how valuable life can really be to a person," the DCMS student said in a May 20 interview.

Fighting cancer
    Taylor, who is now 42, went to the doctor one day in November 2007, thinking she had bronchitis or a similar ailment. Instead, she learned that she had Hodgkin's disease, a type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes.
    She said she was shocked to learn that the diagnosis was more serious than she had thought, but she has always done whatever it takes to cope.
    "In fact, I probably did better with it than some of my family did with it," Taylor said. "I just decided this is what we need to do. I decided to have as positive an attitude as possible through everything."
    Taylor said she went through four rounds of chemotherapy, which did not affect her as badly as it does some cancer patients. She is currently in remission.
    News of the diagnosis made Taylor's daughter, Kari, think about ways she could do something to help her mother.
    And with the help of Kari's friends, the Marcy's Lucky Ladybugs team was born.
    The students sold lollipops before and after school, and at the Dodge City High School track meet, for $1 apiece. They raised $700 from the candy sales, plus $140 from a recent raffle and chili-and-baked potato supper.
    As an additional fundraiser, the group will host a car wash from 1 to 4 p.m. today at Brooke Insurance, 2011 Central Ave.
    All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society for research and advocacy.

'A real inspiration'
    But the team's efforts went beyond fundraising.
     In mid-May, Kari and her teammate, DCMS student Brooke DuPree, launched a weeklong educational campaign with a series of announcements about health and cancer.
    The team is also planning a Relay for Life night July 7 at Dodge City Raceway Park, with lollipop sales and signs to raise awareness of cancer.
    Kari said she thought at first she would be overwhelmed by the project, but everything had fallen into place.
    Several of Kari's teammates said they joined the team because they wanted to support the fight against cancer.
    DCMS eighth-grader Mikayla Eichman said she signed up for two reasons: She had been friends with Kari since seventh grade, and her great-grandmother had died of cancer.
    "I decided to join and kind of help out because I know what it feels like to be going through stuff like that," she said.
    Kari's mother, Marcy Taylor, said the students wanted to do something to help her, which made her feel good, but they also wanted to support all cancer patients.
    "It's more than just me," she said. "It's a real inspiration to see them step up like this."
   
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.