A stitch in her side that wouldn’t go away changed Sue Gaudiane’s life. After a series of tests, her doctor discovered a melon-sized mass attached to her kidney and growing into her liver. It was malignant.
Almost nine years after removal of her diseased kidney and a slice of her liver, Gaudiane is grateful to be cancer free.
“Sept. 9, I’ll be nine years cancer free,” she said while seated at the registration tent at Carson High School’s track before the beginning of the Relay for Life event Saturday evening. Recuperating from torn ligaments in her ankle, she couldn’t walk during the relay, but she was there to support those who could.
Through Saturday night, members of more than a dozen teams took turns walking the track in memory of those who had lost their battles with cancer, in celebration with those who survived, and unified in the desire to raise awareness about the disease.
Funds raised by Relay for Life events support services for cancer patients as well as research into treatments and a cure. Starting off the relay, $32,000 had been raised with a goal of $55,000, which organizers hoped to tally by the end of the relay.
“The last cancer drugs for pediatric cancer was developed in the ’80s,” said Alyna Harrall, whose 2-year-old daughter Samantha is in remission. “There has to be something better out there.”
“Everybody you know, knows someone with cancer,” said Patty Chang, event chairwoman. Chang became involved with Relay for Life through her employer’s volunteer programs four years ago.
Chang kicked off the event with a short presentation describing the reason for the relay.
“We’re here to celebrate, remember and fight back and create a world with more birthdays,” she said.
“Cancer touches the lives of about everybody you know in the world,” said Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, himself a survivor of prostate cancer. “I thought I was bulletproof,” he said, noting the importance of awareness.
If he had been more aware of the symptoms, the cancer could have been caught earlier and possibly eliminated without radiation treatments, he said.
Crowell led the cancer survivors on the first lap of the relay before the support teams began their night-long walk accompanied by music from the Capital City Community Concert Band.
Support from others is important to get through the intense regimen of cancer treatments, said Gaudiane. Single, she is grateful for the neighbors who stepped up to help her manage daily activities that she couldn’t do herself.
The memory of those people motivates Gaudiane’s involvement in Relay for Life, where she serves as co-chair of the Survivor and Accounting committees.
“Cancer is devastating, financially, emotionally,” Gaudiane said.
“I want to make sure the next person that needs that kind of help has it. Or, just to cure it and finish it all.”