Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:58

Relay for Life launches 2014 fundraiser in Swift Current

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Myshel Pajuaar, the first ever ambassador for Swift Current's Relay for Life, speaks during the launch event at the BMO courtyard in the city's downtown, May 8. Myshel Pajuaar, the first ever ambassador for Swift Current's Relay for Life, speaks during the launch event at the BMO courtyard in the city's downtown, May 8.

The countdown has started for this year’s Relay for Life in Swift Current. The Relay is set to take place June 7 at Riverside Park.

The launch of the 13th Relay for Life took place May 8 at the BMO courtyard in the city’s downtown with a number of presentations and a mini luminary ceremony in memory of cancer victims and survivors.
New local band Creek City provided the musical entertainment along with refreshments by BMO staff.
Sheila Sommerfeld, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 1998, was the survivor speaker at the launch event.
“I’m a 15-year breast cancer survivor, 16 years this Sept. 25,” she said. “When diagnosed it was a time in my life that was without a doubt the most scary of all times ever.”
She spoke about the struggle to come to terms with the diagnosis and how her life suddenly changed.
“Life as I knew it ground to a halt as I went through a major surgery, six months of the most aggressive chemotherapy available for my type of cancer, 25 radiation treatments and five years of hormone therapy and here I am today with great humility and gratitude,” she said. “I am able to call myself a survivor.”
She has been a volunteer with the Peer Support Program for almost 13 years. The program matches a survivor with someone who is newly-diagnosed andjust starting to deal with the life-changing event.
“It has been said cancer is a gift-wrapped in barbed wire,” Sommerfeld mentioned. “One quickly learns about the barbed wire part. The diagnosis, the surgeries, the treatments, the side effects and the prognosis. But then there is the gift — courage, inner strength, closer bonds with friends and family, angels of all sorts, shapes, sizes and ages, a new perspective on life and most of all, hope.”
She noted each person’s journey will be different, but for everyone, the road ahead will be full of twists and turns and surprises.
“It is your journey and it can be profound,” she said. “Getting through the journey is no small feat. It requires ‘one day’ or ‘one moment at a time’ attitude, dealing only with what you know to be true today, doing what you have to do and hoping for the best, leaning and trusting in doctors, nurses, medicine, friends, family and God.”
This year’s first ever Relay for Life ambassador was introduced during the launch. Myshel Pajuaar was the survivor speaker at the 2012 Relay for Life in Swift Current.
She was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia and necrotizing fasciitis or flesh-eating disease when she was 19 years old. She said the Cancer Society is near and dear to her heart.
“To date, we have 12 teams registered, which is OK this early in the game, but we do encourage you all to sign up and get on some teams,” she mentioned.
Julie Wellsch, who is the chair of the Swift Current Relay for Life organizing committee, said the ambassador position is a new addition to Relay for Life events.
“It’s something new that the Cancer Society has added to Relay, just honouring a survivor in a different way, putting one face to each individual event,” she explained. “So across the province all Relays will be trying to have one survivor ambassador.”
In Swift Current, the ambassador will represent them at public events in the run-up to Relay for Life.
“She’ll do all of our public speaking for us, the proclamation at the City, speak at the event and be a face for other survivors,” she said.
The organizing committee’s goal is to have 20 teams registered for this year’s Relay for Life on June 7.
“There’s still time though,” she emphasized. “So anyone interested in putting in a team, don’t think it's too late, it’s not. You can register online or you can actually pick up a team kit at Meyers Norris Penny and just register on paper and hand that in to one of the committee members.”
She urged people to come out and support the event. There will be a supper for $5 that starts at 5 p.m. and the official start will be at 7 p.m., when there will be a survivor speaker and a lap around the track by survivors in their yellow T-shirts.
“You don’t have to be registered as a survivor or volunteer or team member,” she said. “You can just come out ... and experience what Relay is because you can’t really describe it until you’re there and you feel it. Then you get the full understanding of what the night is about.”

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