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A chance to unite in fight against cancer

Marie Meyers is chair of the Relay For Life of Sequim planning committee and is a cancer survivor herself. Meyers first got involved with Relay For Life in about 2000 while she was living in Guam as a middle school teacher for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.  - Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth
Marie Meyers is chair of the Relay For Life of Sequim planning committee and is a cancer survivor herself. Meyers first got involved with Relay For Life in about 2000 while she was living in Guam as a middle school teacher for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth

 

Come the second weekend of August the Sequim High School track will be filled with community members for the ninth annual Relay For Life of Sequim event.

Already, 19 teams, equating to more than 130 people have signed-up and more than $11,000 has been raised to support cancer research. For one night, individuals from all walks of life flock together to inspire hope, remember those that died from cancer, acknowledge survivors and to unite in the shared goal to fight cancer.

“We walk through the night because cancer doesn’t sleep,” said Marie Meyers, event chair for Relay For Life of Sequim. “This year the theme of the event is super heros fighting cancer.”

The Relay

Following the opening ceremony and survivor lap, a variety games and activities tentatively planned include three-legged races, glow-in-the-dark ping pong, potato sack races and pie eating contests. A silent auction, luminaria ceremony and live music are also penciled into the 14-hour event. One of the “big ticket” items at this year’s silent auction is a MRI appointment valued at $900 being donated by InHealth Imaging, Meyers said.

Having lost her mother to cancer in 1970, and getting diagnosed herself with cancer in 2012, Meyers is able to look at the drastic amount of research accomplished within the 42 years between her mother’s and her own diagnoses.

It is from events like Relay For Life that have allowed for such research to continue, Meyers said. Originally Relay For Life began in Tacoma in 1985 after Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon walked for 24-hours to fundraise for the American Cancer Society. Klatt was able to raise $27,000 from his efforts. Since then Relay For Life has evolved into an international phenomenon and raises more then $400 million annually.

Unique perspectives

Although those with cancer share a diagnoses, each individual processes and digest the diagnose differently, Meyers said. For Meyers, her first reaction to her official diagnoses was that she “didn’t have time for cancer” with the 2012 Relay For Life of Sequim only two weeks ago and still a lot of planning to do. Meyers’s second thought was “oh good, I get a purple shirt,” Meyers said.

But the reality of having cancer slowly sunk in, and Meyers journey began.

“These past two years have been incredible,” Meyers said. “When you’re dealing with a terminal disease you go through a lot of different phrases.”

Ideas about life, death and afterlife all of a sudden demand serious consideration, Meyers said.

Not long after her diagnoses, Meyers underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy. During her fight against cancer, Meyers was comforted to have a support system like the Olympic Medical Cancer Center’s staff.

“One of the most challenging things for me was dealing with the ups and downs,” Meyers said. “Sometimes I felt very blessed and other times I felt very along.”

Through her personal experience with cancer, Meyers feels she truly learned about the power of encouragement, she said. At times Meyers admits it was easier to be negative, but encouragement provides strength, she said.

For Nancy Taylor, a Sequim resident and patient at Olympic Medical Cancer Center, her strength stems from her support system and innate ability to live in the present.

Taylor doesn’t recall when she was diagnosed with cancer because it was many years ago and she would rather focus on the now.

“Cancer didn’t change my personality one bit,” Taylor said. “I was never Nancy without cancer, why should I be Nancy with cancer?”

Cancer has done little to impact Taylor’s personality, but ongoing chemotherapy has had its influences. However, Taylor looks at chemotherapy as like anything else in life that can alter a person’s decisions, and not necessarily a bad thing. The side-effects, such as a reduced immune from the chemotherapy has caused Taylor to make certain lifestyle adjustments, but she does not dwell on adjustments, nor why she had to make them.

“I  don’t want to discourage anyone from chemotherapy because the positive side of it is that i’m still here, and the negative thing is you have to work at it,” Taylor said.

Taylor feels as though she’s able to have the outlook she does and her attention is not continually drawn to her cancer because of her support group of friends, family and like Meyers, the staff at Olympic Medical Cancer Center.

Taylor’s husband, a close friend, she refers to as her “sister by choice” and mother are all a part of Taylor’s everyday life and have stepped in and taken over certain responsibilities without question.

“Having cancer changed some of the timing of things in my life, but it didn’t change the things in my life,” Taylor said. “It (cancer) is such a small part of me that I don’t want it to be my definition.”

Although both Taylor and Meyers have shared a piece of their own, unique experience with cancer, both noted the importance of support.

“I would like to encourage the community of Sequim to come together for one night and unify in the fight against cancer,” Meyers said.

Relay For Life of Sequim

When: 6 p.m.- 8 a.m., Friday, Aug. 8- Saturday, Aug. 9.

Where: Sequim High School track, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Cost: $10 per individual and $150 to register a team.

More info: Contact Marie Meyers, event chairman at 681-3117, mmeyers8@gmail.com or visit www.relayforlifeofsequim.org.

 

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