“I beat it,” said Christina Cook 37, of Hannibal, explaining she learned in December that she was in remission from the lymphoma with which she was diagnosed in June 2012.
Before the opening ceremony Friday, June 7, at the seventeenth annual Marion County Relay for Life, Christina was supported by 10 family members - some wearing lime green shirts - and they said more were coming. Her mother, Dorothy Watkins, was among them, along with her sisters and their families.
Her family had been with her throughout her treatment, all of which was in Hannibal, said her sister, Dawn Hattey. “We got our shirts right after she was diagnosed. And when she had her chemo we all wore our lime green shirts and sat with her.”
This was just one of the many family groups attending the Relay For Life, which was in the Palmyra High School gym, because the Flower City Park, the previous location, was too wet.
Another encouraging story was told by Angela English of Ewing and her mother, Pansie Schroder of Quincy, Ill. Schroder was diagnosed with bladder and bone cancer a year ago and has now been cancer-free for a month.
Before the survivors’ lap at 7:30 p.m., the sponsors reported more than 400 luminaries had been sold. They were located on both sides of the lap route, and while many were in memory of a cancer victim, others were honoring a survivor.
Survivors of all ages were present, including young children. Haydon Bock of Palmyra was with his mother, Becky, who explained he was diagnosed five years ago and has been cancer free for three years.
Others survivors were supporting each other, along with their families, such as Taylor, Mo., sisters Rosemary Massner, cancer-free for two years, and Irene Riney, cancer-free for one year.
At 7 p.m. Relay chairman Larry Seago announced when various events would take place at the 13 team booths, and invited everyone to buy food from booths outside the school. He then introduced the speaker, Susan Berti of Palmyra.
“I just wanted to hide from cancer and retreat,” Berti said, after her husband died from pancreatic cancer.
But “my son had other ideas” she said. He wanted to continue to participate in the Relay For Life, where his dad had been in the survivors’ lap the previous year. So she became involved and has continued, along with her son and daughter.
“I chose to stand and fight,” Berti said, although she has lost her husband, brother, grandfather and other relatives and friends to cancer.
She reported that “one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and I find that unacceptable.”
Page 2 of 2 - She encouraged everyone present to participate in the Relay or Life, adding “if you are on a team, you are part of the largest non-profit in the world.”
See photo gallery for more pictures.