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Fight against cancer comes to town with Relay for Life

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life is coming to Loomis for the first time. Two area women have teamed up to organize a relay on May 14 and 15 at Del Oro High School and are looking for volunteers and relay teams. Kay Brown, of Loomis, and Candice Vaughan, whose husband has a law office in Loomis, are chairing the event. Both have first-hand knowledge of the devastating effects of cancer. In 2007, Brown’s husband, Tom, lost his four-year battle with colon cancer. She said organizing the Loomis relay is her way of honoring him and his courageous spirit. Brown said her husband was experiencing stomach discomfort and pain when a colonoscopy revealed he had stage-four colon cancer. “He fought very hard. He was very brave,” Brown said. Brown said that when the doctor gave her husband the diagnosis he told him, “You are a survivor. From the day you’re diagnosed you are a survivor.” Brown said, “Those words gave my husband the strength to fight.” Candice Vaughan is a breast cancer survivor. She underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She has been cancer-free for 4 ½ years. “I feel very blessed. I chose to see my cancer as a blessing. I learned not to take life for granted,” Vaughan said. Vaughan and Brown said they know what an “emotional roller coaster” cancer is for both the patient and caregiver. The two make lap blankets and caps for adults and children undergoing cancer treatment. Organizing the relay is another way they’ve chosen to honor victims and caregivers and fight the disease. According to the American Cancer website, the purpose of Relay For Life is to “celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.” Fighting back comes in the form of donations collected by participating relay teams. Brown said funds raised will be used by the American Cancer Society to support research, patient services, early cancer detection, treatment and education. Vaughan said the goal for the Loomis relay is to have 30 teams. The team fee is $24 and the hope is that each team member will raise $100. They expect to bring in a total of $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. During the relay, team members will camp out at Del Oro and take turns running or walking around the track for 24 hours. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Debbie Bates, of Granite Bay, has volunteered at other Relay For Life events. She described the event as “festival-like” with lots of booths, activities, food and people. According to the Relay For Life website, the relay’s themes are “celebrate, remember, and fight back.” The event will begin with a survivors’ lap, “an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories we’ve achieved over cancer.” After dark, a luminaria ceremony will be held to honor those who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease. During this time, candles lit in sand-filled bags, each bag bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, will circle the track and light the way of participants. Bates said, “The luminaria ceremony is the most touching part. You realize each candle represents someone who has suffered from cancer.” Vaughan said in other relays she’s been involved in a bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace” during the ceremony. Brown said the event will conclude with a fight-back ceremony during which participants can commit to fight cancer by getting a screening test, making healthier choices or promoting cancer education and awareness. For more information about forming a team or volunteering, call Brown at 541-3300 or e-mail kttrunk@yahoo.com. ----------------------- RELAY FOR LIFE Who: American Cancer Society What: 24-hour relay honoring those affected by cancer and fundraiser to fight cancer. When: 10 a.m., Saturday, May 14, to 10 a.m., Sunday, May 15 Where: Del Oro High School track How: Teams consisting of men, women and children, walk/run for 24 hours. Need: Volunteers and teams Goal: 30 teams and $30,000 raised Next meeting: 6 p.m., Thursday, March 2, at Loomis Round Table Pizza Contact: 541-3300 or 622-6369