A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, possibly the most terrifying words a patient can hear from a doctor. Because of the number of people this disease claims, it is hard not to feel this is a death sentence. However, giant strides have been made in cancer research leading to survival rates that would have not been possible just a decade ago. And these survivor rates keep growing every year.
One of the biggest reasons for this has been the awareness brought on through the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life.
Each year, more than 4 million people in more than 20 countries take part in Relay for Life. Nearly every community in the Mid-Ohio Valley holds a relay. Today through noon Saturday, Wood and Washington counties hold their annual Relay events.
The event, while offering a remembrance of those beloved family members who have died from this disease, is not a somber two-day funeral. It is instead a celebration of life. It is a celebration of the growing number of people who have fought and conquered cancer, and it offers hope to those who are making the fight against that cruel disease.
How does Relay for Life help fight cancer? It is the American Cancer Society's signature fundraiser. Besides funding cancer research, money raised by the competing teams also goes to organizations that help cancer patients and families during their treatment. Since Relay's inception in the mid 1980s, more that $3 billion has been raised to fight cancer. But, just as importantly, Relay lets families struggling with cancer know they are not alone in their struggle. There is strength - and hope - in numbers.
Tonight, the Relay for Life opening ceremony begins at 7 p.m., followed by the Survivors Parade - a lap by cancer survivors, followed by another lap by survivors and joined by their families. Following these walks a festival begins, one that will continue throughout the evening and until closing ceremonies at noon Saturday.
Unfortunately, even though strides have been made in fighting cancer, it will continue to take family members and friends. That is why the Relay goes on. That is why so many people will gather at both City Park and Civitan Park today. And they will continue to gather every year until this scourge has been wiped from the face of the earth.