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Relay For Life: Battle with cancer is still fresh in RHS principal's mind

Greg Clausen has long been aware of Rosemount's Relay for Life. The

Rosemount High School principal works just a few hundred yards from

the track where the event is held each year, so it would be hard for

him to miss it.

But Clausen has never participated in the event. Then again, while he

has done several other cancer walks in honor of a sister-in-law who

has breast cancer, cancer has never been quite so personal for

Clausen as it is these days.

This year, Clausen is getting involved in the Relay for Life as one

of two honorary co-chairs.

Clausen was diagnosed with leukemia April 25, 2005, after going to

the doctor to check out an inflamed achilles. He was in the hospital

for 32 straight days and for 74 days altogether. Even when he was out

of the hospital he had 44 separate doctor's appointments to keep. He

didn't know until a few days before last year's graduation whether he

would be able to attend.

"Graduation is a meaningful event. It's a highlight of the year and

something I wanted to try to do," Clausen said in June of 2005.

Clausen made it to graduation, and he was back to work full time

starting with the second trimester of the 2005-06 school year. He

still gets tired after particularly long days - the last few weeks of

the school year really wore him out - but life is slowly getting back

to normal.

"The only thing right now is kind of the stamina," Clausen said. "I

get some tiredness. Otherwise my checkups have been good."

Now, Clausen has a better idea what cancer means for people. He knows

how it affected his life. He knows it almost kept him from an event

he considers very important and, if things hadn't worked out as well

as they have, could have kept him away forever.

He also understands what the American Cancer Society does for

people. He visited the society's web sites when he was undergoing

treatment to educate himself about his disease. He took advantage of

cancer society-sponsored support systems.

So Clausen was quick to accept when some of his students asked him to

get involved in this year's Relay for Life.

RHS students have played a big role in bringing new life to the Relay for Life.

"I was very honored that they would think of me, and then it kind of

hits home that you're being honored for having a life-threatening

disease," Clausen said. "It seems kind of ironic in some ways, but it

was very nice of them to think of me."

Clausen will address the crowd June 23. He plans to talk about what

he went through and about how he felt at the time. He still hasn't

worked out all of the details of his speech, but he has an idea what

he will say.

Clausen also plans to take part in the Relay for Life. That should

make for a long weekend. He and his wife plan to leave early on the

morning the walk finishes for an out-of-town wedding.