FULTON, Ill. — Norm Criss has more than one reason to celebrate his upcoming 60th birthday.

When Criss had blood work done nearly six years ago in preparation for routine surgery to remove his gallbladder, his surgeon told him he was anemic and more tests should be done to find out why.

Those tests led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow, in July 2000. Going to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion confirmed the diagnosis as Stage 1 cancer. The doctor there also said Criss probably had 31/2 years to live.

That’s not what he wanted to hear at age 54 with his youngest son ready to start his freshman year at the University of Illinois – Chicago.

After much prayer, he decided on a treatment option.

After nearly two years of chemotherapy treatment, his cancer level was low enough that his oncologist, Dr. Anoop Aggarwal, felt it was time to stop treatments and see what would happen.

Today, Criss has reminders, such as bone pain, that the cancer is still there.

However, he is working full time, keeps up with family activities, is an elder at his church and is captain of Stormin’ Norman’s Relay for Life team. He even has done some traveling with his wife of 38 years, Sharon.

The couple also have been trained by the American Cancer Society for the “Support for Recovery” program, which links them with others who have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer and would like to talk with a cancer survivor.

A birthday dinner for Norm will take place Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Best Western Frontier in Clinton and those who would like to celebrate are invited.

While there is a cost to attend — $11 for adults and $7.50 for children 9 and younger — the couple hope many people who know Norm will turn out for the event.

An open microphone time is scheduled to share memories. Those attending must RSVP to (815) 589-3521 by Wednesday.