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Fighting cancer every step of the way

Staff Report
Lacey Lehman, left, chairwoman of the Fallon Relay for Life, and Erin Entwistle, community relationship manager woth the American Cancer Society, talk to cancer surviors Monday night at a dinner sponsored by the Stockman's.
STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

Months of work that began almost a year ago will come together this weekend as the annual Relay For Life kicks off on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Churchill County High School.

The venue for this year’s event was moved from the middle school to CCHS because of construction.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s annual fight against cancer. Participants remember those who died from cancer and honor those who have fought the disease and won. More than 4 million people in more than 20 countries raise funds and awareness for the war against cancer, according to the relayforlife.org website.

Once Fallon’s Relay of Life begins, participants begin to walk laps and will continue to do so until their final lap early Sunday morning.

One of the most important activities that brings participants together is the survivor’s lap, where attendees walk a lap with a small sign proclaiming how many months or years they have been cancer free.

“This is the biggest reason for the whole event,” said Lacey Lehman, chairwoman of the Fallon Relay of Life. “They are succeeding by continuing to fight against cancer.”

By starting the event with the survivors’ lap, Lehman said this shows others that there is hope.

“Every step they take is a step against cancer and it provides hope,” Lehman added.

Earlier this week, the Stockman’s Steakhouse honored cancer survivors with a dinner, while Lehman and Erin Entwistle, community relationship manager with the American Cancer Society, handed out special survivors’ T-shirts and luminary bags.

Various activities, including performing bands, are scheduled from start to finish, according to Lehman.

Lehman said many activities are planned for the evening and early morning hours, and many of the 15 teams have planned for fundraisers during the actual event.

“We’ve just had amazing teams come out this year that have really embodied the Relay spirit,” Lehman added.”

The Relay for Life committee kicked off the current year with a dinner in November. Lehman said the committee has received more donations and support than in previous years. The committee set a goal of $60,000, and so far, has raised more than one-third of that total.

“We push really hard until June,” Lehman said. “Teams sign up, they raise funds, and just do amazing things in order to reach our goal.”

Prospects to exceed that goal are promising based on fundraising efforts to date, she added.

Lehman said additional contributions come in during the weekend and after the event. She said people continue their fundraising throughout the year.

Relay For Life represents more than raising funds. It’s about supporting those who have been touched by cancer. Among the highlights Saturday night, for example, LVN Editor Steve Ranson, who had cancer surgery in February, will speak as a survivor and about the emotional and communication aspects that affect both patients and those around them.

Lehman said about 30 percent of the money raised in the Fallon Relay for Life will stay in the community. She said local money assists cancer patients and their families to provide either lodging or transportation for individuals seeking treatment.

“The money raised by participants makes a difference in the fight against cancer,” Lehman added. “Dollars make a difference.”

Lehman said the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life provide help to both individuals and communities. She said the ACS is a national community-wide organization dedicated to fighting cancer and because of local volunteers, Lehman said their fundraising allows the ACS to make a difference in people’s lives.

Since the ACS was established 100 years ago, one out of 10 cancer patients survived; now that number has increased. According to the ACS website, the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67 percent.

Lehman, who became involved with Relay for Life six years ago because her father had cancer, said the ACS is also using the money for further studies into men’s prostate cancer and also helping women with cosmetic makeovers.