Relay for Life represents hope in ongoing battle to defeat cancer

Published 9:36 am Monday, June 27, 2016

Our View

One of the most important events of the year was held Friday night, and as usual it drew a large crowd of participants — some of whom have worked all year in fundraisers, others who have waged a battle against cancer, the disease for which the Carter County Relay for Life is fighting hard to beat.
As we all know, Relay for Life is a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, not only here but across the state and nation. The Carter County Relay for Life’s roots go deep, having sprouted from the work of a dedicated few and a handful of organizations. It has since become one of the largest fundraisers and one of the most positive events in the community and includes hundreds of volunteers, who work all year long in events such as bake sales, gospel singings, car washes, spaghetti dinners, breakfasts, etc. Then, when Relay time arrives, they come together in a unified effort to remember those who have lost the battle to cancer, to celebrate with those who have beat it, and pledge their efforts toward finding a cure.
Most of us will at some point in our lives be affected by this monster of a disease. From close friends to family, if we don’t already know someone either fighting the battle or who was taken by cancer, we most likely will.
It is projected that this year there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases diagnosed and 595,690 cancer deaths in the U.S.
That’s why the ongoing effort to find a cure and more effective treatments is crucial. But it takes money for research, and money to aid those who are battling the disease. This is why local volunteers are out there raising funds, why they are determined in their efforts. Each year, they raise thousands of dollars for the cause. These Relays provide a backbone of financial support, and their year-long efforts were celebrated last evening and night.
Perhaps one of the most touching moments of the evening was the traditional survivor’s lap around the track. For them, it is a victory lap, a resolve to keep fighting, to keep giving, and to never give up.
Lining the track last evening was luminaries with the names of hundreds of individuals, who lost their battle to cancer. As the small candles flickered in the bags of sand, names and photos were illuminated. Memories remain of their fight, our loss, and the challenge to keep fighting for a cure.
The evening also had its lighter moments — games, music, food, friendship, laughter and prizes. At Relay for Life, old friendships are renewed and new ones are made as everyone celebrates our most precious gift — life.
Relay for Life represents hope. Cancer is a terrible disease. Many people get it, and many people die. But the survival rate seems to be getting better. Many more people are recovering from cancer.
According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a number of vaccines are being studied that would cause the body’s own immune system to fight cancer after it has developed. One potential vaccine has tripled the survival rate of men in clinical trials who have advanced prostate cancer.
The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 454.8 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2008-2012 cases).
The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 171.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2008-2012 deaths).
Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women). It is highest in African-American men (261.5 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (91.2 per 100,000). (Based on 2008-2012 deaths.)
The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.
Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.
These statistics may seem grim. But there are encouraging figures among them.
You saw those encouraging figures in the faces of those walking the survivor’s walk last evening.

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