Relay Raises More Than Money

By EGP News Report

Cancer survivors dressed in purple shirts kicked off a 24-hour relay walk on Saturday with a lap around the track at Cantwell Sacred Heart High School in Montebello. Halfway around the track, they passed batons off to family and friends traveling toward them from the opposite direction.

The relay raised $32,000 for the American Cancer Society’s cancer research and services. It also served as an annual gathering for cancer survivors and a memorial for friends and family who lost their lives to cancer.

Breast cancer survivor Nora Ochoa, 51, was among the participants. She was not only marching for herself, but also for her father and sister-in-law who passed away from cancer. When she put together her team for last year’s relay, chemotherapy had left her bald, and she was thinking of her sister-in-law and father when she lit her candle during the Saturday night-time portion of the relay.

Ochoa says last year, when she found herself surrounded by forty other people in her relay team, she was overcome with emotion and could not help but burst into tears. “[The march] brings you together with people and makes you feel that you’re not alone out there,” she said.

Cancer survivors, with caregivers behind them, march around a track at Cantwell Sacred Heart High School in Montebello as part of the annual 24-hour relay to raise money for cancer research and services for cancer patients. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

According to committee vice chair Patsy Sandoval, the annual event is attended by hundreds of people every year. Not all of them have suffered from cancer or know people who have, but they are compelled to give support, she said. There were also information booths at the event to raise people’s awareness about cancer.

The money they raise goes to cancer research, as well as services for people with cancer, such as a program that provides rides to the doctor, according to Sandoval. She says the annual relay plays an important role in helping people with cancer cope with their disease. She has known people with cancer who have kept it a secret from their families, but she says it’s important to tell people, and it’s okay to lean on others for help, such as asking a neighbor to go to the grocery store.

“The people around you are scared too, and they want to help,” she says.

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June 7, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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