Thursday, 12 June 2014 13:19

People support fight against cancer at Swift Current Relay for Life

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The 13th annual Relay for Life in Swift Current raised over $60,000 for the fight against cancer.

Twenty teams with a total of 203 participants took part in the 12-hour long event at Riverside Park on June 7, which started with an honour lap by 90 survivors in bright yellow t-shirts.
They were joined on the second lap by people who have been or who are caregivers.
Thereafter, the teams gathered for their first lap around the track and then the regular walking schedule started.
Swift Current resident Kathy Anderson, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, was the survivor speaker during the opening ceremonies. She thanked the volunteers for putting on the event.
“This dedication represents the future for new treatments and cures,” she said. “It’s a good way to come together for a great cause.”
She was initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told she had three to six months to live.
“I was quite stoned by this news,” she said. “In that split second live as we knew it would never be the same again. My mind was racing with thoughts going everywhere. ... I was thinking this was a mistake and I was in total denial.”
After further tests she was informed it was actually neuroendocrine cancer. It is a rare type of cancer that is manageable, but without a cure.
Only a few clinics and hospitals deliver the treatment to fight this cancer and she had to make regular trips to London, Ontario, for surgery and chemo radiation treatment.
She is currently taking a daily chemotherapy pill that targets any active cells and prevents them from spreading.
“This treatment was not available when I was first diagnosed,” she said. “So far it has been effective and I can tolerate this drug well. And even though I have cancer, I feel like a survivor.”
According to Anderson she has never experienced the rage that some patients feel during their battle with cancer.
“Maybe because I was immediately surrounded by positive people who loved me and survivors with their own inspiring stories because now I was one of them,” she said.
She added that cancer has changed her and made her stronger than she ever felt would be possible.
“It has made me look at life differently, it has realigned my priorities, it has strengthened our family in only a way a critical illness can,” she said. “I have met people who normally I would not have met and they have become very good friends, I have peace in my soul, I have faith, courage and hope.”
This was the first time she attended a Relay for Life event where she walked on the survivor lap.
“I will be wearing my T-shirt with pride and walking for people who were taken too soon, warriors still fighting the battle, celebrating the cancer free survivors and the caregivers, those saints who stand by us every day,” she said.
A total of 965 luminaries were sold for the luminary ceremony that took place later that evening to remember cancer survivors and loved ones who have lost their battle against cancer.
The ceremony started with a tribute by Arlene McKenzie, the facilitator of the Kinkin’ Cancer support group, for Les Borson, a group member who lost his battle against cancer during the past year.
He was a distinguished agrologist who became well known for growing gladiolas after his retirement. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2012. He died at the age of 66, only two years after his treatment started.
“All who knew him, both personally and casually, will miss Les,” McKenzie said. “As a group we miss Les’ keen sense of humour, his love of learning and his quest for knowledge about his disease. I will miss seeing Les checking out the vegetables at Farmer’s Market this year and I’ll remember him fondly each time I see a blooming gladiola plant.”
The other two speakers during the luminary ceremony were Ed Doyle and his daughter Eliza, who spoke about being caregivers. He said it was a very difficult journey for him to be a caregiver.
“It feels hard saying that because I’m not the one with cancer,” he mentioned. “My wife had the cancer.”
He tried to support his wife during her chemotherapy in Regina, which left her without energy and very tired, but the strain became too much for him and he broke down during one of their visits to Pasqua Hospital.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he recalled. “I didn’t have the energy to do it. … I was just crying, I didn’t know what else to do.”
He spoke to a woman at the hospital, who asked him about his life and how that has changed during the previous five months.
“I found out that I’ve stopped caring for myself,” he said. “I stopped doing things that made me strong because I was trying to do things for my wife and my partner.”
He realized it was important to still enjoy his favourite pastimes and to have fun without feeling guilty about it because his wife was dealing with cancer.
“For me it’s so enlightening ... because I felt so helpless,” he said. “So for all of the caregivers my advice is to try to get stronger to get your strength built up so that you can give in an earnest and loving way.”

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Matthew Liebenberg