| Jun 16, 2011

Photo: Kendra  Wilson and Dallas Arney perform Oh, Canada during the Relay Opening.

There were a lot of familiar faces at the Flinton park on June 10 as most of on and  We Hwy. 41 corridor community gathered for the second Relay for Life. The bar had been set rather high in 2010 when the local community raised over $83,000 for the Cancer Society.

Thanks to the efforts of a now seasoned committee, headed by Carolyn Hasler, Sue Tobia, Joel Hasler, Suzanne Tebo, James Wood, Beth Hasler, and financial whizzes Janice Arthur and Donna Wood, the number of teams held steady at about 35, and the corporate sponsors, all local companies, were on board again. Alex Chisholm was on hand as the President of the Land O’Lakes Lions Club, which was the event sponsor of the relay once again.

In addition, since a number of teams held fundraising events in advance of the relay, almost $60,000 had been counted and deposited in the bank before the relay even got underway on Friday night.

At the opening ceremonies, once the dignitaries and sponsors were thanked, two people were introduced who brought home the real reason that so many people had sacrificed what turned out to be a pleasant late spring evening for the cause.

Dylan Walker (photo left) bounded to the stage, looking and acting like the active little boy he is. It was bit of a different story a year ago, when Dylan was bald and in a more subdued state after just having completed multiple sets of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and stem cell therapies for neuroblastoma.

This year it was hard to get Dylan to stand still long enough for him to give an update of his condition, leaving it up to his steadfast supporter, his grandmother Debbie MacLeod, to explain that Dylan has just had the best year of his life and has been gaining strength week by week.

Then came another tale of survival, delivered by Lois Wise. Lois is not accustomed to public speaking, as she pointed out when she admitted she was using the trick of imagining that everyone in the audience was standing in their underwear in order to combat her nervousness. But she had an important message, and after taking deep breaths she began to relate the story of her ten-year journey, which started with putting off seeing her doctor when she began to notice changes in her body, to having her relatively rare form of breast cancer finally diagnosed. This was followed by an emotional and physical roller coaster of denial and acceptance, and a brutal series of treatments.

She talked about a new drug, Herceptin, which was approved in Canada just as she was at the point when its best chances of helping her had come about, saving her the need to sell her house and temporarily move to the United States.

“If I had been diagnosed with this form of breast cancer 15 years earlier, I would not have survived it. The research dollars that have made the development of new treatments possible have made a real difference in my life,” she said. “Today, here I am, in as good or perhaps better shape than I've ever been in,” she said.

Lois Wise's address led right in to the Survivors’ Lap, and the 83 survivors who were willing to participate from such a small community again only underscored how prevalent cancer is.

As the teams began their hours-long trek across the track, Emma Grand, an 11-year-old Flinton girl, had her long hair cut off to become part of a wig for young cancer patients as her brother passed a can around to collect further donations.

Sue Tobia had earlier explained that the long, dark night of the relay is a metaphor for the cancer journey towards the dawn of a hopeful new day

The long night of the Flinton Relay had begun, but instead of the long, lonely night that Sue Tobia talked about, it was to be a night filled with fun and cheer between friends and neighbours. In addition to all of the messages of strength and defiance, participants in this year’s relay will remember a spectacular all-male beauty contest that brought the house down.

As of Monday, $80,000 had been counted and banked from the relay, and event chair Carolyn Hasler expected that the total will likely exceed that of 2010, to no one’s surprise.

Hasler did not want to say anything about whether the relay will return to Flinton in 2012 before the post-relay committee meeting takes place, but in light of the amount of energy and support this year’s event received, a third relay would seem to be a distinct possibility.


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