William and Pauline Weldy attended last Friday’s Relay for Life together. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
William and Pauline Weldy attended last Friday’s Relay for Life together. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – When Wetzel resident William Weldy led the survivor lap at the Van Wert County Relay for Life last Friday night, he did so as a 72-year survivor of the dreaded disease.

Weldy was a 17-year-old senior in high school when a sore on his lip refused to go away.

“At first I was kind of bull-headed about it, but my mom and sister took me to Dr. Fatum in Van Wert,” recalled Weldy. “He sent me to Dr. Edwards who took a biopsy and sent it to Ann Arbor.”

“On April 21, 1946, I went to Ann Arbor, and on April 23, I had surgery,” continued Weldy. “They cut a hunk of my lip out. They didn’t have chemotherapy or radiation at that time. Instead, they gave me 32-34 shots of penicillin. They gave me a shot every three to four hours. For several years I would go back up there for a check-up.”

In 2004, 58 years later, a similar cancer returned, this time to the other side of his lip. This time he was treated with radiation and the growth was surgically removed.

“Even though I had been through this before, I was calm about it,” said Weldy. “I didn’t let it upset me. I just took it as it came.”

Unfortunately, Weldy’s bouts with cancer still weren’t over. In 2005, he developed prostate cancer. This time he returned to Ann Arbor to have radiation seeds implanted in his prostate. Since then, he has been cancer-free.

Much of Weldy’s support and encouragement has come from his wife, Pauline, who he married 63 years ago. The Weldys have spent their lives in the Wetzel area. Much of his farm life, Weldy milked 35 cows.

He noted that he and Pauline lived “five or six miles apart” and both attended Hoagland-Jackson Schools. They were married on June 19, 1955, in St. Mark’ Church in Van Wert.

“We had five children. I stayed at home during that time and then I taught at Lincolnview,” said Pauline.

Weldy said that he is amazed at the advancements that have been made in cancer treatment since his first round with the dreaded disease.

“They made a lot of accomplishments since the first time that I had cancer,” said Weldy. “They didn’t know anything about it back then. They have made a lot of advancement; this all helps.”

“It’s kind of hard to believe, 72 years ago,” noted Weldy. “It wasn’t that bad. I can’t compare my round with cancer to somebody else’s.”