In May 21 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
The Russell County Chamber of Commerce met Tuesday for their regular monthly meeting at the Jamestown Café.
Brooke Cary of the American Cancer Society was the guest speaker to raise awareness and enthusiasm for the upcoming Relay For Life event scheduled for June 24, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. at the Adult Learning Center.
The 12 hour overnight event is significant, explains Cary, "It represents what our cancer patients go through in treatment; when darkness falls, that represents their diagnosis (of cancer); two o'clock in the morning when we're all really tired and wanting to go home, that represents middle of treatment when our patients are not feeling well; and six o'clock when the sun rises, that represents end of treatment for them, and a start of new life for them."
Cary emphasizes that everyone is encouraged to participate in the walking event, but that no one is expected to stay for the entire event unless they so desire.
Relay For Life is the main volunteer-driven cancer fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. Donations are collected by solicitation of the participants of the event who months beforehand begin assembling teams to conduct the walk in relay, taking turns. The event itself is as much a symbolic celebration of recovery as well as a remembrance of loved ones lost to cancer.
To learn more of Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society, or the upcoming Russell County event, you can visit www.relayforlife.org or call Brooke Cary at 606-678-0203.
Cancer ranks alongside heart disease as the biggest killer of Americans each year, but donations are helping in the fight.
"Donations go to research, which is what we were founded on" said Cary, following up with interesting facts, "Keep in mind there are nearly 12 million cancer survivors among us, which is the most in history. We estimate in 10 years that will be 20 million."
Cary went on to say remark that due to efforts of organizations like the American Cancer Society, childhood leukemia, once nearly always fatal, is now 85 percent curable.
"But it's not only research on finding a cure; it's better treatment," said Cary, giving as an example strides in helping suppress nausea in patients undergoing the treatment that can terribly disrupt the victim's body.
Funds through the American Cancer Society also fund educational efforts for prevention and detection, as well as political advocacy through a sister organization.
The American Cancer Society has assisted 25 Russell County cancer patients with 59 free services and programs between September 1, 2010 and the present. Last year, between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010, American Cancer Society assisted 25 Russell County cancer patients with 72 free services and programs. Hope Lodge provided 100 nights of free lodging to four Russell County cancer patients in the same time period, saving patients approximately $12,500 in motel expenses.
Hope Lodge has provided 50 nights of free lodging to two Russell County cancer patients saving those patients approximately $6,250 in motel expenses.
What Happens at Relay For Life events?
Although every Relay For Life is different, there are certain traditions at all Relays, no matter where they are held. These traditions help participants celebrate, remember, and fight back.
Celebrate - The Survivors Lap
Relay starts with a Survivors Lap - an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories we've achieved over cancer. The Survivors Lap is an emotional example of how Relay participants are ensuring that more lives are saved each year - like those of each individual on the track. We also recognize and celebrate caregivers at Relay For Life. These individuals give their time, love, and support to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers who face cancer. At Relay, people understand the frustrations and joys of being a caregiver, since the effects of cancer reach far beyond just the person diagnosed.
Remember - The Luminaria Ceremony
After dark, we honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence. As people take time to remember, those who have walked alongside others battling cancer can grieve and find healing. This is a time that truly highlights the importance of defeating this disease.
Fight Back - The Fight Back Ceremony
Last, there is a Fight Back Ceremony, where we make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer. That personal commitment may be to do something as simple as getting a screening test, quitting smoking, or talking to elected officials about cancer. By taking action, people are personally taking steps to save lives and fight back against a disease that takes too much.