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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

28 teams show cancer who’s boss during Relay for Life

by Sylene Argent

The slogan “Community is bigger than cancer,” was plastered all around the grounds of Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens on Friday evening, reminding the members of the 28 teams that participated in Essex County’s 12-hour long Relay for Life event just how important their support is.

  The annual event began on Friday evening with an opening ceremony, where Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos brought greetings to the crowd of energetic participants, all dressed in colourful and matching team costumes, with signs, donning words of encouragement and support, in tow.

  “We are here to live, to fight, and to remember,” Santos said to the crowd of cheering event participants. “It is nice to see everyone come together to stand up against cancer.”

  Relay for Life events are hosted nation-wide as fundraisers for the Canadian Cancer Society. Teams collect pledges for their participation in their event. Throughout the 12-hour event, at least one member of each team must walk the track to symbolize no one with cancer walks alone.

  “This event is something we cherish,” Santos said. “There are no boundaries or barriers we won’t cross to fight this fight.”

  Information shared during the event noted around one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. That diagnosis, however, does not have to define those individuals.

  Dr. Lisa Porter, a cancer researcher of Windsor, fronted the Relay Team “Porter’s Lab Rats.” She took a moment during the opening ceremony to share some insight from her point-of-view. She said she hears “what are you doing with the money raised for cancer research” over and over again.

  In the 1950s, when the first war on cancer began, she said, researchers thought a miracle cure would be found in a plant or animal extract. Through research, it was discovered that somethings, like chemotherapy, kill cancer. Over time, however, it was noticed that chemotherapy did not work for everyone, Porter noted.

  She added that even two people with the same cancer may not get the same results from the same treatment. That means different kinds of approaches need to be put into practice.

  It was discovered “cancer wasn’t as easy as we initially hoped,” she said.    

  Porter noted that across Relay for Life events, less and less people are attending, perhaps because they are giving up hope. “We are doing well, but we can’t stop,” Porter said, adding she was happy to see the great turnout at Friday’s event. “What you are doing here matters.”

  After the opening ceremony wrapped up, cancer survivors took to the track first to complete the “Victory Lap.” Members of the 28 teams then took to the track to show support. Later that night, the luminary ceremony took place, where candles were lit along the track in remembrance of those who have passed away after a battle with cancer. 

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