Celebrating at Relay For Life

11 June 2013

Charlottetown, PE -

Queens Survivors 2013

Celebrating at Relay For Life

Turning 21 years old is a milestone many young people celebrate by cracking a bottle of bubbly and partying into the night.  When Penny Ford turned 21 last Friday she marked the occasion, with her mother by her side, by leading the parade of cancer survivors on the Victory Lap that kicked off the Queens County Relay For Life.

 “I was just so happy to be there this year,” says Ford.  “When we went out on the track I didn’t find it too emotional, but my mom got teary-eyed. She said later she didn’t know if I would be here to do it this year.”

This was the second time Ford joined her mother in the survivors lap at the Relay for Life.  When they first did the walk together in June 2012, it was just one week after Ford completed chemotherapy.  “I was pretty sick and weak this time last year and we didn’t know what the outcome would be,” says Ford.

The young woman from Harrington, P.E.I., was diagnosed with throat cancer early in 2012.  The problem started with her losing her voice, which she initially thought was just a repetitive case of laryngitis. But when her voice almost disappeared, doctors discovered a more serious cause.   A biopsy revealed a malignant tumor on her larynx, where the vocal cords are located.  

Ford had surgery at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Center followed by intensive chemotherapy and radiation. She finished treatment in July, 2012, but it was another five months before her voice returned.

“I was able to shout and cheer along with the rest of the cancer survivors,” says Ford. “It was a good feeling to be there alongside so many people who have gone through what you’ve gone through.”

Ford’s mother, Kathleen Hill, is one of those survivors.  Hill had breast cancer in 2000.  She has participated in the Relay For Life every year since fighting her own battle with cancer.

They were among more than 160 cancer survivors, decked out in bright yellow t-shirts, who attended a reception at the Charlottetown Civic Centre. Many survivors then walked a “Victory Lap” of the race track to celebrate their triumph over the disease.

The mother-daughter team carried a banner signed by survivors as they led the way around the track at the Charlottetown Driving Park, site of the Queens County Relay.

“It was certainly a shock to us all when Penny was diagnosed with cancer,” says Hill.   “That hit me hard.  But she got through it and I was pretty happy to have her with me at the Relay this year.”

Thirty-six teams with more than 400 participants took part in the inspirational, non-competitive, 12-hour overnight fundraising event that brings the community together to celebrate life and fight cancer.

The Queens County Relay For Life raised more than $91,000.

The money raised supports the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division as it strives to prevent cancer, increase the number of cancer survivors and improve the quality of life for Islanders living with cancer.

Relay For Life symbolizes and honours a cancer patient’s journey. For the thousands of Canadians fighting cancer right now, their journey is long and hard. From the shock of initial diagnosis, through days of treatment and the long nights that follow for them, cancer never sleeps, so neither do Relay participants.

There are two more Relay For Life events on Prince Edward Island this month.   The next one is a school initiative this coming Friday, June 14th, at Westisle Composite High School, in Prince County.   The following Friday, June 21st, the Kings County Relay for Life takes place on the site of the former Brundenell Campground. 

The public is invited to get involved in both of these events. Cancer Survivors are invited to participate (for free) at receptions in their honour followed by the “Victory Lap” that kicks off the event.  Individuals can sponsor participants by visiting relayforlife.ca or purchase luminaries in memory of loved ones for $5 each by calling   1-866-566-4007.

For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. It has been relentless in its commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, it works with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you have questions about cancer, visit the website: cancer.ca or call the toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

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The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007