Cancer survivors as well as caregivers and community members gathered to raise awareness for Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature activity. Teams of people will camp out the Williamson Field House and take turns walking or running around a track or path. The Relay is an overnight event, up to 24 hours in length.
Teams of people from all walks of life have fun while raising much-needed funds to fight cancer and raise awareness of cancer prevention and treatment.
Guest speaker for the event was Sarah Erwin Vance, a native of Delbarton who received a diagnosis of leukemia when she was a sophomore at Burch High School.
“At first, all I felt was shock and fear,” Vance told the over 150 who attended the dinner. “I don’t remember much about that first hospital stay, just people coming to see me. I was in isolation due to a suppressed immune system, and the only people who could come into my room were my parents and my sister.”
Vance said that hospital stay lasted six weeks, followed by a four-day visit home. Then it was back to the hospital for five more weeks and another round of chemotherapy. It was then that she experienced her first Relay for Life.
“My family and I had never experienced cancer, we didn’t even know what Relay for Life was,” she said through tears. “But we went, we wanted to know what it was about. “
Vance said she returned to the hospital, spending time in the Intensive Care Unit, and then returned to Burch High School for her junior year.
At that time, she tested cancer-free, and has remained in remission.
Vance attended West Virginia University on a Champion Scholarship, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The program is just one of the many services Richard Totten, community manager for the Tug Valley Relay for Life, spoke about at the dinner.
“The American Cancer Society is the official sponsor of birthdays,” Totten said. “We realize that each birthday is a gift, that there is no such thing as too many birthday candles.”
Totten shared information about several programs within the ACS, such as patient advocacy, free nutrition counseling from a registered dietitian, I Can Cope, a family educational series, Look Better . . .Feel Better, a workshop which helps patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, and the Community Resource Connection.
“The Resource Connection helps bring groups together to help cancer patients,” Totten said. “For example, if a Boy Scout Troop builds wheelchair ramps, and we have patients that need those ramps, we can use our database of groups and bring those people together.”
All the speakers at the dinner asked survivors, caregivers and anyone else who could to attend the Relay, which will take place Friday, July 24, starting at 6 p.m. at the fieldhouse.
Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people to:
Relay for Life brings together over 3 million people world wide to:
Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. The strength of survivors inspires others to continue to fight.
Remember loved ones lost to the disease. At Relay, people who have walked alongside people battling cancer can grieve and find healing.
Fight Back. We Relay because we have been touched by cancer and desperately want to put an end to the disease.
There is not a required amount of money to raise in order to participate in Relay For Life. The American Cancer Society’s recommendation is for each participant to set a personal goal to raise $100. If you raise more, that’s even better. If you do not raise $100, you are still welcome to participate. We’re glad to have you. The only requirement to participate in Relay For Life is the $10 registration/commitment fee (per person) that is due upon registration.
For more information, contact Richard Totten at Richard.Totten@cancer.org or visit the ACS web site at www.cancer.org or call 1-800-ACS-2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.