Relay for Life

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by Kim Davis

This weekend Wayne County will host Relay for Life at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fairgrounds. This is an incredible and inspiring opportunity to unite as a community to honor cancer survivors, raise awareness and raise money to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease.

According to Gail Reid-Vestal, American Cancer Society Relay for Life Specialist this is Wayne County’s 20th year participating in Relay for Life. There are over 5,000 relay events and Wayne County ranks 24th because of the dedication and commitment of our citizens. Currently 96 teams and 1,335 participants have raised $233,644.38. This number will continue to rise from now through the end of August.

Cancer has touched all of our lives at one point or another. Perhaps you have a relative, friend, or someone close to you who has a family member fighting this disease. Whatever the case, finding out that someone you know has cancer can be difficult, frightening, and stressful.

My family went through all of those emotions four years ago when my only brother Curtis, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He has taught me that his struggle with this disease has not became his identify. He continues to live a full life. He works full time, manages his farm and cattle, assists with my mother’s care and maintains two properties. Life goes on and he has made a conscious decision to live life fully and enjoy every moment.

Sixty years ago, 1 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survived. Today, thanks in part to the work of the American Cancer Society, 2 out of 3 will survive. In the fight against cancer, silence is the last thing we need. Your local American Cancer Society Relay For Life event is a great place to take action and make noise. So come on out and participate and get involved! Plus its lots of fun and you are helping a worthy cause.

Perhaps you want to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those battling the disease by dedicating luminaria bags. Luminaria bags are transformed and illuminated after dark at every local Relay For Life event. Each luminaria is personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer. Luminaria can also be dedicated in support of a Relay participant. Each luminaria candle represents a person. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, coworkers, and so many others.

The Luminaria Ceremony is one of the most awesome things I have ever witnessed. As the sun sets, luminaria lining the track light up the night in tribute of loved ones whose lives have been touched by cancer. Relay For Life participants, survivors, and caregivers then gather to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those whose fight continues.

I hope you will choose to spend your evening with us this weekend as we unite to raise funds to support cancer research, remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those battling the disease. Walking together we are bigger than cancer.

Help fight back, get involved and make a difference in the fight against cancer. Visit www.cancer.org to learn the many ways to support your American Cancer Society with tax-deductible donations, volunteer opportunities and life-changing events such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer® and Relay For Life®

Thoughts to Ponder:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.

Cancer may have started the fight, but I will finish it. ~ gotCancer.org

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. ~ John Diamond

Christine Smith is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU,Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.