Relay for Life…
Survivor takes life one day at a time
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY Survivor Chairman Dee Van Devender looks fondly at the Relay for Life poster from two years ago, when he and four other survivors served as honorary chairmen of the event. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
May 25, 2001
Cancer survivor Dee Van Devender says he has had so many chemotherapy and radiation treatments he glows in the dark. Seldom without a smile on his face, he glows in the daytime, too.
He tells people cancer has made him a better person because he now takes life one day at a time. As this year's Survivor Chairman of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, Van Devender is organizing survivors' participation.
The Cancer Survivor Walk will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 8, at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium. Registration for the walk will begin at 6 p.m. A group picture of survivors has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Golf carts will be available for survivors who are unable to walk.
Van Devender's story
Van Devender became a survivor in 1990 after a check-up revealed he had colon cancer. Surgery was performed four days later, followed by a year of chemotherapy.
During a routine check-up in 1998, colon cancer was discovered again. He had a colostomy and underwent another year of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
What does it take to survive? "First of all you have to have faith in the Lord, there's just no ifs, ands or buts about that," Van Devender said. "Just because you have cancer doesn't mean you have a death sentence."
Van Devender grew up in the construction business. His grandfather started a construction company in Meridian in the 1920s. Van Devender's company, Van Construction, is located on 14th Street. He and his wife, Tanya, were married last year, they both have two grown children. Tanya's former husband died of cancer.
He's 10-foot tall
This is Relay For Life's seventh year in Lauderdale County. Van Devender was honorary chairman during its second year. In 1999, the five previous honorary chairmen Van Devender, George Meyers, Wink Glover, Marjorie Davison and Jo Smithey served in the honorary position again, this time simultaneously.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.