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franklin county times

Annual Relay For Life set for Friday night

Citizens in Franklin County have been attending the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life for many years now and this Friday night they will once again have the chance to join together as a community in the fight against cancer.

The 2012 Franklin County Relay For Life will take place at the Russellville High School Stadium on Friday starting with the opening ceremonies, Survivor’s Lap and Caregiver’s Lap at 7 p.m.

Megan Lovelace, a community representative for the American Cancer Society, said she hopes everyone in the county will show up for an evening of food, games, entertainment and, most importantly, supporting a great cause.

“Relay For Life is such a special event because it is a time where a community can come together and support those who have battled cancer and remember those who have lost their lives,” Lovelace said.

She added that while many people come out for the opening ceremonies and the entertainment that follows, there are still a lot of people who don’t realize that Relay For Life is an all-night event that carries on until the sun comes up Saturday morning.

Lovelace said the reason Relay For Life lasts all night is because it symbolizes the journey of a cancer patient and what they have to endure when they are going through treatments on the road to recovery.

According to the ACS website, the light and darkness of the day and night are symbolic of the physical effects, emotions and the mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment. Relay For Life begins when the sun is setting, which symbolizes a person being diagnosed with cancer. The growing darkness into night embodies a cancer patient’s state of mind as they probably feel hopeless and full of despair.

As the night wears on and the temperature drops, Relay participants can almost feel the emotions of a cancer patient dropping as well. The timeframe between 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. represents the time when the cancer patients start treatments. Treatments cause the patient to become exhausted, sick, weary and possibly wanting to give up, which is the way many Relay participants who had been walking all evening would begin to feel at this point in the evening. But cancer patients cannot give up and that’s the message learned by those who stay all night.

When the sun finally rises on Saturday morning, many people will be filled with relief and this represents the end of treatment for a cancer patient. New hope comes with the morning and a brighter outlook on what lies ahead.

“I feel that it is so important to get out and walk during the Relay For Life because it is our one opportunity out of the year to put ourselves in the shoes of a cancer patient,” Lovelace said. “I know it’s late and we are tired and ready to go home, but there are times where a cancer patient wants to give up too, but they can’t. They must have hope for a brighter tomorrow. We can give them hope by walking one night in their honor, and to let them know we are behind them all the way.”

The Franklin County Relay For Life Committee and many community Relay teams have been fundraising and preparing for months in order to reach the $121,000 goal they set at their kick-off meeting in January.

Lovelace said the money raised through all the fundraisers and at the Relay For Life event will support patient services, lifesaving research, prevention education and advocacy efforts.

According to the ACS, on average 157 individuals will be diagnosed with cancer in Franklin County alone this year with 76 of those losing their lives.

For those who have directly or indirectly been affected by these types of statistics, Relay For Life takes on a new meaning.

“Cancer is something that has effected each of us in some way or another, and I encourage everyone to take one night out of their week to come out to Russellville High School and fight back against a disease that takes too much from too many people.”