Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer
Calloway County residents came together on April 29 to take part in the fight against cancer by participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
Groups and businesses throughout the county organized teams and raised $37,750 by fundraising and donating. This money goes toward funding cancer research, patient care and prevention and detection programs.
Teams and individuals who participated took turns walking around the Calloway County High School track.
According to the Relay For Life website, “each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps.”
Teams from Murray-Calloway County Hospital, Murray Woman’s Club and Murray State sororities and fraternities attended.
The event began with a ceremony recognizing cancer survivors. Survivors were announced one-by-one and presented with medals marked with how many years they have been cancer-free. Survivors then walked the first lap around the track together.
After the Survivor Lap, caregivers walk a lap with them, and teams and individuals join in on the third lap.
Tiffany Clayton, Relay For Life of Calloway County survivor chair, said she called each of the nearly 150 survivors herself and invited them to events.
“It means a lot as a survivor myself,” Clayton said. “It hits home.”
Clayton said she is a brain cancer survivor and has been attending Relay For Life events for 18 years.
The event typically has a different theme each year, but Clayton said this year they kept it simple and put the focus solely on survivors.
Later in the evening, luminarias were lit to honor those who lost the battle to cancer, those currently battling cancer and survivors.
Alison Sasseen, nurse practitioner at Oncology and Hematology of Murray, said she has attended numerous Relay For Life events, and her patients encourage her to do so.
“My cancer patients are my family,” Sasseen said.
Sasseen said she has lost two family members to cancer, so her involvement is also personal.
Kris Jackson, Oncology and Hematology of Murray office manager and breast cancer survivor of 18 years, said her line of work is personal to her as well and is mostly involved in cancer care.
“Usually people end up in oncology because they have some type of connection,” Jackson said.
More Relay For Life events will take place in other western Kentucky counties in May and June.
Go to relay.acsevents.org/ to find Relays, create or join teams and donate.