Relay for Life
By Molly Kraisinger
On Wednesday, February 26, two Relay for Life advocates came to Seton to speak at an assembly for the upcoming Relay for Life for the West Side of Cincinnati. Two Seton graduates, Jen Gruber and Katie Lahni, along with Seton Senior Kendall Cappel shared with us what Relay for Life was and what it meant to them. Jen Gruber works for the American Cancer Society and has been with them for eight years. She said, “I love my job. I get to meet cancer patients who are battling with such courage and people who are so compassionate working for a cure.” Kendal Cappel talked of how cancer has touched her family through her Grandma. She said, “It’s truly an awesome experience walking with survivors.” It’s amazing how many people have been touched by cancer. To show just how many people have been touched, they asked for audience participation. Lahni, a cancer survivor, asked the crowd to stand if your mom or dad had experienced or is experiencing cancer. A few people stood up. She then said stand for your aunt or uncle. More people stood. When she said brother, sister, or even friend, nearly every single person was standing. It’s amazing how many people are affected by cancer.
Lahni then talked about her personal experience with cancer. She started off saying how she was always sick, and then she found a ping pong size lump on her clavicle. Her doctor wasn’t concerned but when she went to the ENT he thought it would be safe to do some tests on the lump. November 17, 2011 was a day that would Lahni would never forget. She said, “I was at work walking through the hallway when I received a call from my doctor. He told me, ‘You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.’ I thought to myself I am going to be okay. Then he said I had cancer. Those three words changed my life.” At age 24 she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was in her jaw, neck and inside her chest. The next two weeks she began treatment; 8 runs of chemo and 12 runs of radiation. She told us how she lost her hair from treatment, and thanked Seton for participating in Beautiful Lengths last year. A month before her 25th birthday she was declared in remission and cancer free. She will continue to get regular check-ups until 2017 when she can then be officially declared cured from cancer. She said, “I believe we all have that fire within us, the fire to fight back. No effort is too small. That is why I relay.”
The Relay for Life for the Westside will be at Mt. St. Joe from June 6-7, starting at 6 p.m. and lasting till 12 p.m. the next day. The 18 hour event starts with a speech from a survivor. Then all survivors who attended take the first lap. Jen Gruber said, “It’s honestly my favorite part of the whole 18 hours. Seeing people who are survivors is hope for those who are recently diagnosed.” When it starts to get dark, around 9 p.m. they have a luminary ceremony in remembrance of those who’ve lost their battle to cancer. The event has games, theme laps, competitions, and musical entertainment so that everyone can enjoy the full 18 hours. The theme this year is Carnival. They encourage teams to do raffles, games, and food stands to raise money. At the end they award prizes to the top fundraisers, the person with the best camp, and more.
Jen Gruber said, “We fight back cancer by raising funds through relay for life. Just like cancer never sleeps, you don’t sleep, to resemble what a patient is going through.” Fundraising comes from the stands people set up, donations, and the $10 entry fees. They encourage participants to enter with $100 so that they can receive a free t-shirt. Funds from the relay help with all sorts of things such as hotlines for help on cancer, a place to live, and free rides to treatment. From this money, it saves an astonishing 400 lives from cancer. The Westside alone raises about $50,000, and the relay for life community total collected around 358 million dollars last year.
To get started on your own personal way to help prevent and cure cancer, they left us with a few tips. The obvious no smoking and tanning was a big point, because 50% of cancers are preventable. The first thing they encouraged us to do is leading a healthy life style by eating well and exercising. They encouraged us to start up a team for the Relay for Life. Lahni explained, “All it takes for a team is one of your rows!” To get a team started you only need 15 people. They are hosting a team captain meeting this Monday on March 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hills High School. If you don’t register for a team, don’t worry you can also just go and register there. Final step is they told us to encourage loved ones to get screened for cancer, like your yearly mammogram, and to spread the word about the upcoming relay in June.