CARO — Cancer survivor Cathy Cabala said those living after receiving a cancer diagnosis celebrate, reflect or just relax at the Relay for Life of Tuscola County event set for Aug. 20 at the Tuscola County Fairgrounds.
Volunteers planning the 16th annual event seek to register survivors and teams wanting to walk in the relay, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.
The relay begins at 10 a.m. on Aug. 20 and concludes at 10 a.m. on Aug. 21, as teams of walkers take turns navigating an asphalt path at the fairgrounds and welcome familiar faces and newcomers wishing to help the cause.
Teams walk for 24 hours, with different themes planned at different times during the walk.
“It’s kind of neat to even sit beside the bonfire at night with people walking by,” said Cabala, 70, of Tuscola County’s Ellington Township, who has survived after being diagnosed with cancer 41 years ago.
Survivors, wearing purple T-shirts, circle the fairgrounds trail during the Survivors’ Walk. But Cabala, who has walked in the relay for about six years, finds beauty in the evening walk on the trail when it’s lined by luminarias – bags with candles set inside them.
“When they light up those (luminarias), it’s just amazing,” Cabala said.
Corinne Bach of Caro and her mother-in-law, Sue Bach of Wells Township — volunteers with Relay for Life of Tuscola County — urge survivors and teams to register for the event ahead of time.
For more information, call Chris at 1-810-358-5701 or email Sandra Koglin at: email@example.com.
“This effort is not just to raise money for research and a cure, but to help those who have cancer, and the survivors,” said Sue Bach, who has walked in the relay for about 15 years.
“It’s to let them know there is help out there,” Sue Bach added. “They can get free wigs, or transportation to and from appointments, and find someone to help them with their diets, and their frame of mind.
“Even if you don’t want a wig, you can still be beautiful with no hair. Don’t be embarrassed about the situation. There are people you can talk to who can help you through it, and survivors that have had it.”
Anyone needing help or who has questions related to cancer may call the American Cancer Society hotline at 1-800-227-2345.
“Early detection is key,” Cabala said. “If they think there’s something wrong, they need to get it checked.”
Sue Bach said she walks in the relay in honor of her late father, Edward Smith, who died of cancer in 1964 when she was 14. Smith worked at Caro Golf Club and at Eaton Foundry in Vassar.
Sue Bach said she also walks in memory of her mother – the late Verna Smith – who survived colon cancer and skin cancer.
“I walk for them and so that hopefully someday there will be a cure for it so that no one will have to get it, or everyone can survive it,” Sue Bach said.
Organizers of Relay for Life of Tuscola County also plan a “Paint the Town Purple” campaign from Aug. 1 to Aug. 21, urging residents and businesses throughout Tuscola County to decorate their buildings and properties in purple. Judges will honor the “best decorated” buildings in the county, and salute those raising the most money, countywide, in connection with the campaign.
An ice cream social is planned for August, and organizers will announce the date in the coming weeks.
Activities associated with Relay for Life of Tuscola County in 2015 raised about $130,000 for the American Cancer Society, Corinne Bach said. About 175 cancer survivors joined to walk the Survivors’ Lap.
Corinne Bach urged survivors and caregivers of cancer patients to make early contact with planners of the Aug. 20 relay.
“We’ve been planning since November, but this is where we start getting our survivors and caregivers involved,” Corinne Bach said.
Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org