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Survivor stories: Previewing Relay for Life

POSTED: May 2, 2010 12:30 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

The Survivor's Walk during last year's Relay for Life at Road Atlanta.

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In just more than a month, thousands will gather at Road Atlanta in Braselton for a tribute to all those who have been affected by cancer and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The event goes all night, with at least one member from each team walking around the track at all times.
But before the relay itself begins, there's the survivors lap, an inspirational time where cancer survivors band together and walk the track.

The Times' metro editor Shannon Casas talked to just a few of these survivors to see why they got involved with Relay for Life, and what the event means to them.

Carol Scott
Survivor chairwoman for Relay for Life

When were you diagnosed with cancer? What kind?
In 1983, breast cancer.

How is your health now?
Great. In May, it will be 27 years.

When you were first diagnosed, what was it like?
Very scary.

How did your family react to the diagnosis?
They were all very, very supportive. Of course my husband was scared, too. We were all scared until I had the surgery. They got it all, and then we were so relieved. Everyone was very supportive — my church, my family, my friends and everybody.

What has it been like participating in Relay for Life?
I've been involved in Relay for 10 years now, been on the committee for the last six or seven.

What is it like participating in the survivors walk portion of the Relay for Life event?
It is awesome. You get on that track and people are cheering for you and you think "I haven't done anything." It's just an awesome sight to see the number of survivors growing each year because we are making strides. We still haven't found THE cure, but we sure are making strides in treatments.

What motivated you to get so involved?
I want to see a cure. I want to see this disease wiped out. I've lost too many people from it. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've lost a grandmother, I've lost my father, I've lost my brother-in-law. I've just lost too many people to cancer. It's an evil disease, and I would love to be able to see the cure in my lifetime.

Betty Gillespie

When were you diagnosed with cancer? What kind?
May of 1996, breast cancer.

How is your health now?
Fine.

When you were first diagnosed, what was it like?
Awful. Just like somebody had hit you.

How did your family react to the diagnosis?
They were very supportive. My sister usually carried me for the treatment, and then she would bring me back home. And then my husband was here with me all the time except when I went for treatments.

What has it been like participating in Relay for Life?
I think I got involved in '97, ' 98. It's been great. It just gives you a real good feeling. I really do enjoy it, there's just a variety of things that we do. We help different teams raise money and talk about Relay and what the cancer research and all does. (I'd like to tell people that) if somebody has not been to Relay, that it's an experience, they should come.

What is it like participating in the survivors walk portion of the Relay for Life event?
That's just amazing. It's amazing to see so many people that have survived out there walking.

What motivated you to get involved?
My cancer.




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