Relay for Life want to ‘celebrate more birthdays’

Michelle Roberts was diagnosed with cancer when she was 16 years old.

She will speak at 6 p.m. today at Relay for Life on the story of her struggle and how she overcame Erving’s sarcoma cancer, which included a softball-sized tumor in her right shoulder blade.

Her treatment included a year long with radiation treatment and a stem cell transplant.

The Relay for Life theme this year is “Celebrating More Birthdays,” with the idea that if more money is raised for cancer research and treatments, more people diagnosed with cancer can celebrate more birthdays.

Roberts said she wanted to speak to show attendees that people can overcome cancer and that their money is going to a good cause.

“Obviously, I was scared,” Roberts said. “I was so shocked it was not an option to be scared. My doctor laid out a plan, so I thought I should do what he said.”

Robert’s speech will be about how she felt while being diagnosed and after she was treated.

“It’s good for people to see a success story,” she said. “The money is going to a good cause.”

Robert’s said even though her parents will not see her speak, they were there for her during her rough time.

Robert also included that her parent’s were also fearful for her survival.

“They were the same way,” she said. “They knew they had to step up.”

Her friends and family friends also dropped everything to help out.

This year, during spring break, was the first time Robert’s doctors called her a survivor and felt comfortable telling her she would be OK after being released from St. Jude’s hospital in 2005.

“I can now speak without breaking down,” she said.

Dana Browne, treasurer of Eastern’s Colleges Against Cancer, has been participating in Relay for Life since her freshman year of high school.

“I want to help others so people don’t have to be affected by cancer,” Browne said. “Cancer touches everyone’s lives and hopefully someday it won’t.”

The event will be 12 hours long, from 6 p.m. to Saturday at 6 a.m. in Lantz Arena.

Colleen O’Sullivan, president of Eastern’s Colleges against Cancer and event chair, said the event is 12 hours long with the notion that since cancer never sleeps, neither should the members attending.

O’Sullivan saw the effects of cancer when her grandmother died from the disease and her grandfather suffered from it.

She said others should understand the importance of seeing the effects of cancer.

“It’s everywhere and can happen to anyone, whether yourself, friends or family members,” O’Sullivan said.

Amanda Buswell, the staff partner for Relay Colleges Against Cancer, wants students and community members to be educated on prevention and protection against cancer.

Charleston Fire Chief Richard Edwards will also speak about his 14-year-old daughter Sasha, who is a cancer survivor, along with other survivor and caregiver speakers, bands and entertainment.

The fundraising goal for this year’s Relay for Life is $70,000, and the Colleges Against Cancer has raised $27,000 so far, hoping to get more at Relay for Life.

Last year Colleges Against Cancer raised nearly $60,000.

There will be 58 teams with 450 participants at Eastern’s seventh annual Relay for Life event.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected].


Themes of laps

The first lap will be a survivor and caregiver lap.

Roberts said a caregiver could include anyone, whether they are someone who drove a survivor to an appointment or someone who went and got their medicine. Caregivers can go around the track with or without their survivor.

The different themes of the laps include Panther pride, where students when their Eastern apparel; a birthday theme to go with the main theme; a “blow bubbles” theme where members will be given bubbles and go around the track with the idea that smokers should blow bubbles instead of smoke; a “not smoke” lap and a poker lap where members will be given cards each time they run around the track and whoever has the best hand after seven cards wins.

Plus, there will also be track beads and attendants can buy a necklace for $5 and get a bead every time they go around the track.

Activities During Relay for Life

Along with the laps around the track at Lantz Arena, there will also be other activities.

Colleges Against Cancer will sell bags for $5 in honor of people who had cancer at a luminaria ceremony.

The bags will be placed on the track, the lights turned off and names of the cancer victims in the bags will be read. This ceremony will take place at 9 p.m.

Other events include bingo, twister, a scavenger hunt, dance lessons, an auctioneer who will give out prizes using Relay bucks and a Mr. Relay contest.

Mr. Relay is when a prize is given to the best guy dressed up as a girl.

“Hope For Hooters” T-shirts and “Great Boobs” will be sold for $10 and $5 for breast cancer awareness.