Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.
The inspiration behind the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life fundraiser rings true to an increasing number of Americans every year.
We celebrate our friends, family members and co-workers who have successfully fought cancer. We remember those who weren't able to overcome it. And through events such as Relay for Life, we fight back against the disease that will kill more than 559,000 Americans in 2007 alone.
Sadly, it's likely at least one of those victims will be someone close to you, or someone close to someone to whom you also are close. In fact, it's hard to find anyone whose life hasn't been touched by cancer, and we never know when it might be our turn again.
Steamboat Springs resident Sara Lindsey scheduled a doctor's appointment because she wasn't feeling well. The nurse thought it was strep throat. In reality, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma already had spread through much of her body. Chemotherapy helped shrink the cancerous knots, but it didn't prevent the lump that would appear in her breast five years later.
Lindsey has been cancer free for more than a decade, and she proudly walked 25 miles last year as part of Steamboat's inaugural Relay for Life event at the Steamboat Springs High School track. She'll be back again this year.
She might be joined by Yampa Valley Regional Airport firefighter Ken Farmer, who returned to duty three weeks ago after spending the previous year and a half battling a rare form of salivary gland cancer called myoepithelioma, which kills 80 percent of its victims. He dropped 40 pounds during treatment, and the deformity on the right side of his face is a daily reminder of his fight.
Community members raised thousands of dollars to help Farmer, who is uninsured, pay his medical bills. "Without a community behind me, it would have been disastrous," Farmer said.
The survival stories of Lindsey and Farmer are part of an ongoing Pilot & Today series to highlight residents who have overcome cancer as we approach the second annual Steamboat Springs Relay for Life event.
We've often praised the people in our community who selflessly give their time and money to countless local and national causes. We hope that same charitable spirit will be bestowed upon the second annual Steamboat Springs Relay for Life event Aug. 10 and 11 at the high school.
Last year's overnight event raised more than $50,000 for the American Cancer Society and empowered the survivors and friends and families who walked laps throughout the night, often in remembrance of loved ones.
This year's event is shaping up to be even more successful. Teams of walkers are raising funds through bake sales, donated services and office promotions, among other things.
Luminarias are being sold to honor cancer victims, and more than 20 businesses have signed up as major sponsors.
But in the costly, continuing effort to find a cure and help those in need, there can never be enough support. Join a Relay for Life team. Donate money. Volunteer at the event. Buy a luminaria to honor a friend or relative who couldn't beat cancer.
Buy it in the hope that the next victim will win.
For more information about the local Relay for Life event, call Marvin Lindsey at 871-4770, Luther Berntson at 870-9675 or visit www.ascevents.org/relay/co/steamboatsprings.