2013 Relay for Life working for a cure
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life celebration was held at the Emery High School Track on July 19. The celebration was in reference to the cancer survivors celebrating another year, another birthday and another relay. The Relay For Life was also in commemoration of those who have lost their life due to the dreaded disease cancer. The purpose of the Relay For Life is to raise the awareness of cancer patients in the community and to raise money for cancer research in the hope of finding a cure.
Many cancer survivors came out to a dinner furnished by the Relay For Life organization. The Emery High School cheerleaders served the survivor meal.
After the meal at 6 PM cancer survivors and their caregivers formed a large group and walked around the track representing the track of life.
Judi Bishop representing the Western Division of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life Regional Council with the help of Kori Oveson, Mandi Potter and many others coordinated all the outstanding events that took place at this event.
Around the field several venders of food and other items were working under canopies to shade the people, their food, drink and merchandise. In most cases these venders would be donating any profits to the American Cancer Society.
The Relay For Life keynote speaker was Ginger Johnson, the mother of three children, the founder of Happy Chemo.Com and Happy Chemo magazine to help people with cancer. Johnson a cancer survivor spoke to the group about her experience with breast cancer.
Annie Oveson entertained the group with several songs at the beginning of the program. Mandi Potter welcomed everyone by saying welcome to the Relay For Life 2013 and commented on the beautiful evening of no rain. "We come together to celebrate survivors. Remember those who have passed from cancer and make new commitments to fight back. To do everything we can to ensure a future for our kids and grandkids, where cancer will not be the life threatening disease that it is now," said Potter.
The flag ceremony was presented by troop 385 from Cleveland Second Ward.
Clarise Chidester sang the national anthem.
Potter reported the American Cancer Society was formed 100 years ago. "It's purpose was to cure cancer. Here we are 100 years later and we are still waiting for a cure. But we have come a long way in 100 years. There was a time when a patient with cancer was never told of their diagnosis, it was a death sentence. Now we know in 2013 that cancer is not one disease, but a group of diseases that affect different parts of the body in different ways. We have
ent parts of the body in different ways. We have survivor rates today near 95 percent for some cancers. There are other cancers that we are still working on. We keep on because there is no finish line until we find a cure. We celebrate those who are fighting the fight and those who have won. We remember those who have sadly lost their battle. We will continue the fight into the new century. The American Society is calling for us to finish the fight. Lets not have another century of people dying," said Potter.
Judi Bishop, before she introduced Ginger Johnson talked about Kori Oveson and Mandi Potter. She thanked them for what they accomplished in putting on this event. Judi said, "I am proud of you and I have a gift for each of you."
"Joyce Swaner is the Cancer Society relations manager for our area, Emery, Carbon and a few others. Since joining the council we have worked hard together. I have an award for Joyce and for all of her hard work at the six relays we are doing this year.
"I had the pleasure of meeting Ginger Johnson in Salt Lake and she is a remarkable young lady. She is one of those people who has thumbed her nose at cancer. She is a survivor, she started a little magazine called "Happy Chemo". You will see her car, here somewhere, that has Happy Chemo all over it. She has three beautiful children and a wonderful husband. I have worked with Ginger for the last year, it has been a real honor and a privilege" said Bishop.
Ginger Johnson took the stage and started out by getting the audience to participate in her awesome cheer for the awesome cancer survivors and caregivers. "I am so grateful to be with you today to be alive and to share with you this Relay For Life.
"My journey began in 2006. That is when on Halloween day I was diagnosed to have breast cancer. Halloween turned into the worst day of my life. Because I was 31 years old and I was 5 months pregnant.
"At that time I was a fitness instructor. I was in the best condition in my life.
"How many of you were blind-sided by cancer? It is something that can come into our lives and devastate our reality. I know it did for me. I had a five year old, a seven year old and we had just moved into our new home. I was going to get a job and go to Disneyland. Instead I got cancer and then the following year the economy fell, leaving my husband jobless and putting us through two financial mastectomies. After going through chemo I truly do get what it is like to go though the cancer journey. That is why tonight I want to talk to you about how important it is for you to maintain the hope that you have inside. Hope is something so wonderful because it is the desire to see change. That is why we are here tonight. We are rallying around the survivors and around the cause of raising funds in hope to find a cure. Whether that will happen in my lifetime or in the lifetime of my children. It does not matter as long as it happens. There are too many people, you know these people, who are either suffering or have lost their lives to this disease. I have found that if you will grab onto hope that hope leads to happiness. Do not grab onto despair.
"For many of us, myself included, for many months I walked around like I had a dark cloud following me. I could not shake the cloud. I realized in that time period that I was becoming hopeless. We can become cancer when we choose to let it overcome us, when we choose to let despair take away our hope. Hope is what fights despair," said Johnson.
She then told the story about the donkey of a pioneer in a hole that shook off burying dirt that was thrown down on him and tromped the dirt down until he walked out of the hole.
"So we too have instinctive feelings from birth that helps in times of despair. When it feels like everything is falling in on us, burying us alive, because there is so much to deal with. Just like that donkey we need to use that opportunity and use the divine instinct that is within us to shake it off.
"Just like a toddler will get back up every time he or she falls down. There are those around you, who will encourage you to get back up when you are down. They are called caregivers.
"Our motto is. We never give up. We never give in, we are survivors.
"We each have resilience to bounce back or get back up. We have enthusiasm in our life for the things that are good and the happiness comes from what we have. It is not what they take away from you that matters. It is what you do with what you have left.
"I am honored to be one of you. To be here in your presence, seeing the smiles and the handshakes of the other survivors and caregivers is enjoyable. Several family members have passed on because of different cancers.
"Adversity can be a great teacher. Let it teach us instead of beat us," said Johnson.
Joyce Swaner also thanked Kori Oveson and Mandi Potter for their work. She then gave out carrying bags and awards to the committee that assisted with this event. She said I am grateful for everything that they have done.
A talent show of dancers, singers and cheerleader, performance followed Ginger Johnson and the awards ceremony.
Later that evening Judi Bishop went around and gave certificates of appreciation to six of the vendors.
Gerry Stotler lined up luminaries with candles enclosed all around the Emery High Track to represent the pathway to finding a cure for cancer. On each luminary was the name of a survivor or in memory of one who had passed on. After dark these luminaries were lighted to illuminate the path of those who walked the dark track carrying a lighted wand.