Relay for Life – Heroes of Hope
An 11-year breast cancer survivor, Thelma credits her faith for her cancer journey, saying, “Every day I wake up with a decision to celebrate my life.”Thelma also credits her survivorship to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement and her local support group. “The support group at the cancer center gave me a comfortable environment to air all my fears and doubts,” Thelma says. “The members of the support group were a huge inspiration and beacon of hope to me, especially early in my cancer journey. It changed my perception of my life from hopelessness to hopeful.”
It was during this time that Thelma was invited by one of the nurses at her support group to participate in a Relay For Life event. She walked in the Survivors Lap one day after her last chemotherapy treatment. “My first Survivors Lap in 2001 saved my life,” she says. “Walking among survivors who survived 5, 10, 15 years or more was a great inspiration. They gave me hope that I will be a long-term survivor like them.”
After learning more about the American Cancer Society at her support group meetings and listening to other patients’ lack of support, inspiration, and loneliness, it strengthened her resolve to share every possible resource the American Cancer Society offers to every cancer patient she meets. Thelma has evolved from a cancer patient walking in that first Survivors Lap to organizing a Relay team for her company, becoming a committee member, event chair, and a Hero of Hope.
Thelma has also taken her fight globally. She was the team captain for Delta Air Lines’ first global Relay For Life team in Japan. In 2004, she visited her home country, the Philippines, with the hopes of changing the belief that cancer should be endured in silence, without early care. In the fall of 2011, she went on a medical and surgical mission to the Camiguin Island province in the Philippines, to help educate groups of women on breast cancer and breast self-examination. Nine women who attended, subsequently detected cancer in their own breasts.Thelma is a long-term survivor with a long-term mission. “My wish is for every country in the world to unite and walk together through Relay events. I believe we can find the cure, one lap at a time.”
Relay for Life of Granite Falls will be held on July 19 (noon) to July 20 (10:00 a.m.), 2014 at Hi Jewell Field at the Middle School.
Sadly, evidence tells us it doesn’t always happen to other people — and even if it’s not our own personal experience, cancer affects all of us. Do you have a story you’d like to share. Articles can be submitted to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.