Cancer is a disease that affects millions of families all over the world. The Wood family in Sun Prairie is no exception. The only difference: they've battled and beat the disease more than once.
And through it all they've maintained two constants, they're love for each other and for the racetrack.
Jerry Wood has the need for speed.
“It's really addictive, it really kind of takes over your whole life at first because you can't think about anything else,”
In 1967, when he was just 16 years old, he hit the racetrack for the first time.
“I used to dream about just getting in the pits and just wiping the windows on the car and the next thing you know, I'm in there driving one,” he said.
Around that same time, he met the love of his life, Debbie.
“I was a sophomore and he was a freshman in high school,” she said.
The couple married at 21 and things were going well until 2000. That's when doctors diagnosed Debbie with colon cancer.
“It was devastating because I've been with her since I was 15 years old so she's my partner,” said Jerry.
Surgeons cut the cancer out and Debbie was in the clear. But five years later, cancer came roaring back.
“That was a shock because I never expected breast cancer, it doesn't run in the family or anything,” she said. “They told me they could just go in and take it out or whatever and I said no, I want a mastectomy because that way I know it's gone,”
The mastectomy was a success and once again she was cancer free. Then in 2010, it happened again. But this time it was Jerry who got the bad news. Jerry was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“I never once got that 'down and out' thought you know, I mean I tried to be upbeat,”
Jerry had successful surgery to remove his prostate. Today he and his wife are both cancer free. They say racing helped with their recovery.
“Racing was a God send for me,” said Jerry. “The shot of the best medicine you can get,”
“When they got sick, I mean it hits home,” said Jerry's younger brother and fellow racer John.
“It's all in great fun but it's also very competitive,” he said.
He says his family's battles with cancer tested their resolve.
“That did bring Jerry and I closer together I think,” said John “It really toughens ya up I guess,”
Now the Wood family is raising awareness about early detection, urging everyone to get regular check-ups with the doctor.
“I would have never known about my breast cancer and he would have never known about his prostate,” added Debbie.
“It's not like when you smash your thumb and you know right away you have a sore thumb,” explained Jerry. “Cancer can sneak up on ya, so you have to stay a head of it,”
Jerry has found a lot of success living life in the fast lane. But beating cancer three times between the two of them is definitely a victory they won't soon forget.
“So you just really gotta be on your game, keep up with your doctors and just keep after it, that's the long and short of it,”
Jerry and John race in the ASA Super Truck Series. They hope to have seven races this upcoming season at Madison International Speedway. They are both pretty good racers too. Jerry and John have each won the series once.
For more on the ASA Super Truck Series visit www.speedtruck.com