Taking laps for cancer awareness

Cancer survivors begin Relay of Life's first lap in 2015.

Cancer survivors begin Relay of Life's first lap in 2015.

Many Churchill County residents can attest cancer affects everyone in one form or another, either as an individual, family member, friend or caretaker.

Because of that, the annual Relay for Life has become the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser to help those who need assistance. Fallon’s Relay for Life kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. at Churchill County Middle School with a Survivor’s Walk, and the event concludes Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

“Most of the funds for the American Cancer Society events is raised through Relay for Life,” said Tara Wise, community manager for Relay for Life in Reno.

Wise, who works for the American Cancer Society, told cancer survivors Monday night that many communities in Nevada, including Fallon, raise “a huge chunk” of money for various projects, and survivors are proof many programs work. The survivors were attending a dinner sponsored by Stockmen’s Casino.

“We love to celebrate survivors and caretakers,” Wise said. “Research makes sure survivors have a better quality of life.”

Wise, though, said a major dilemma faces many people of all ages, and that is cancer prevention.

“We need to get people to eat healthy,” Wise said, explaining invaluable information found in the ACS’s “Guide to Healthy Eating and Being Active.” According to the booklet, the ACS has developed nutrition and physical activity guidelines that should become part of a person’s everyday life.

Wise explained the various programs the ACS has offered over the years including a service that assists uninsured cancer patients, for example, obtain insurance. Another program, said Wise, is entitled “Road to Recover.” She said a volunteer takes people to their treatments and brings them home if a family member is unavailable.

Another program that has gained interest is Hope Lodges, the nearest one is in Salt Lake City, Utah, near the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“It was built completely by fundraisers through the American Cancer Society,” Wise said. “It provides free lodging for yourself and your caretaker.”

Since the facility opened, Wise said patients from Carson City, Fernley and Elko have traveled to the center.

Brandee McCoy, a cancer survivor and event chairwoman of the Fallon Relay for Life, said survivors begin the event with a walk around the track, and the caretakers follow by walking the second lap. Then members from 15 teams must have at least one person on the track at all items. McCoy said all teams will be staying overnight.

McCoy said she has a mix of teams participating this year including some who are returning and others who took a few years off but have decided to rejoin the 2016 relay.

Relay for Life is not all walking. During the evening, McCoy said organizers have planned games, a bounce house and a Mr. Relay contest that raises additional money. Many laps also have themes.

McCoy, though, said over the years participating has waned since the economy soured seven years ago with the number of teams and sponsorships; however, McCoy remains optimistic that this year’s Fallon Relay for Life will be able to raise finds to help people fight what the ACS calls Public Enemy No. 1.

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