Cancer, like lightning, can strike anybody, anywhere. That fact was made tragically clear when Beau Biden, 46, died of brain cancer last week. (See related column on this page.)
The good news is treatments, especially after early detection, can keep the voracious cancer monster at bay. The medical refinements in the treatment of cancer have vastly improved in the past decade or so, and countless people are alive now because of such fine-tuned improvements in both diagnosis and treatment.
Those innovative technologies are still being developed, faster than ever though there is still a long way to go. And that is why it’s so important to donate generously to cancer research.
On Friday, June 5, a Relay for Life event will take place at the Sartell Middle School. Cancer survivors and their families, friends, caregivers and supporters from all over the greater St. Cloud area – and beyond – will take part in the all-night rally. Everyone is encouraged to visit the rally, whether they’ve been touched by cancer or not, and who has not known someone with cancer?
The Relay for Life starts at 5 p.m. outside the middle school (inside if the weather is cold or rainy). It will go on until 6 a.m. the next day, Saturday, June 6. At 10 p.m., the pathway luminaries will be lit during a special ceremony.
Relay for Life, which is a program of the American Cancer Society, is a way to honor those who have cancer or who have survived (or not survived) the dreaded disease. It’s also a way to raise awareness about cancer and to raise funds to help fight it. Annually, about four million people in 20 countries participate in the relay.
The event includes a relay walk, with teams of people camped out around the walking track. Members, all night, take turns walking around the track. Food, games and other activities help bring teams and visitors together and establish camaraderie.
So far, more than $5 billion worldwide has been raised in the fight against cancer, thanks to the Relay for Life events. The first such event took place in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt in Tacoma, Wash. walked and ran for 24 hours around a track. The next year, 340 people decided to do a similar fundraiser, and the annual Relay for Life began.
Money raised via Relay for Life goes to a number of cancer-fighting efforts: further research, rides for cancer patients to and from their treatments, free places where cancer patients can stay when getting treatment away from home, wigs and other beauty enhancements for people undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, and a support program so cancer patients can connect with people who have survived the disease.
Those who cannot attend the Relay for Life event in Sartell can donate online. Go to relay.acsevents.org, then click on “Get Involved.” In the pull-down menu, click on “Donate,” then type in the zip code 56377 under “Find an Event.” What will pop up is “Relay for Life of Greater St. Cloud – Sartell, MN.” Then under that title, click on “Donate.” There is also a list on that page of other upcoming Relay for Life events coming up in central Minnesota.
We do hope lots of people show up in person for Relay for Life in Sartell. Meeting cancer patients, survivors and their supporters is a good in-person way to learn about the disease and ways to fight it. As the old saying says, “There but for fortune go you and I.”