Cancer survivors honored at Relay for Life eventThe Davison County 4-H building will glow tonight, as local residents and cancer survivors gather for the third annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
The Davison County 4-H building will glow tonight, as local residents and cancer survivors gather for the third annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
The relay’s mission is to raise money and awareness for cancer research, education and advocacy, said Bobbie Clark, community relations director for the Mitchell American Cancer Society. Last year’s event raised $20,000 to be used for such goals. Participants began collecting funds for this year’s event about six months ago.
But the event means so much more.
For survivors like Marilyn Peschong and Adam Cerney, both of Mitchell, the relay offers a chance for support and inspiration from others who have been diagnosed with cancer and have fought the disease.
“They are still going and to see what they can do motivates me to keep going,” Cerney said.
Relay for Life begins at 5 p.m. at the county 4-H building — west of the Ramada Inn on Highway 16 — with a “Survivor Celebration Meal” and music from the Mitchell Barbershop Chorus.
A short program and opening ceremony is at 6 p.m., and at 6:30 p.m., all participants can begin walking. Music will be provided by the United Methodist Praise Band and the YWCA kids club and others will host an assortment of children’s activities. A concession stand will be available for participants, too.
The Luminaria Ceremony begins at 9 p.m. Afterward, local youth teams and other volunteers will begin the overnight laps, which Clark said, “symbolizes the cancer patient’s journey through the darkness of diagnosis and treatment to the daylight of hope.”
The closing ceremony is at 5 a.m.
Cerney and Peschong were selected as the relay’s honorary survivor chairs. The duo will lead off the survivor’s lap following the event’s opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
This year’s theme is “to celebrate more birthdays.” Clark said the theme reiterates the society’s mission of “saving lives and creating more birthdays by helping (those with cancer) stay well, fight back and find cures.”
“The event is to have people participate, remember and fight back,” she said.
That is exactly what Peschong and Cerney are doing.
After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2009, Peschong found that a strong support network from family and friends, along with a little faith, could push cancer patients forward.
Peschong is currently receiving chemotherapy treatments. A surgery in mid-May removed about 85 percent of the tumor. As of now, she said, there’s no timeline of when she could go into remission.
Cerney was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2008 at the age of 23. A more curable form of cancer, it originates from white blood cells called lymphocytes. His wife, Samantha, noticed swollen lymph nodes in his neck. The lump didn’t hurt, so Cerney hesitated before visiting a doctor.
On Oct. 31, 2008, he went for a checkup and two weeks later he was diagnosed. Cerney needed 12 chemotherapy treatments, but after six he was in remission.
Being asked to be one of the two honorary survivors was a shock to him.
“It’s quite something to be chosen,” he said. “I didn’t think to be picked for such an honored position. There are so many that have gone through and done so much more than me.”
Neither Cerney nor Peschong had attended a Relay for Life event prior to tonight, but Cerney said he plans to attend annually in the future.