You could feel the emotion as cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters gathered for the annual Pike County Relay for Life fund-raiser at the Pike County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Melanoma survivor Wayne Young of New Hartford said the crowd of 200 came “for their own benefit and others too. This cancer’s a serious thing and we’ve to get a handle on it.”
Sitting next to him at the opening ceremonies prior to the five hours of team walkers was Bud Henderson, of Bowling Green, a friend of Young’s since childhood.
“I just found out (recently) that I had cancer in my backbone,” Henderson said. “I’m glad I came because I’ve talked to a lot of people and it’s been very encouraging to me.”
Judy Ray, of Bowling Green was there to support the survivors.
“I have family members and really good friends who have had cancer,” Ray said. “I’m here to show people I care.”
Sarah Sheets of Bowling Green found out about the ravages of cancer as a caregiver for her mother, CynDee Jones, also of Bowling Green.
“She’s a three-year cancer survivor,” Sheets said. “She had lung cancer and it went to her back. I helped her in and out of bed to learn how to walk all over again.
“I’m blessed,” Jones said. “This lifts my spirits and raises money for cancer (research and services.) “It means the world to me. There’s a lot of camaraderie here.”
Pike County Relay for Life Chairman Robbie Orf said the teams raised more than $34,700 this year, an increase of $1,100 over the 2012 fund-raiser.
“We’re very excited,” Orf said. The cause leader has been affiliated with Relay for Life since she was on a team in 2000. She continues as a organizer because “I have friends, family and co-workers who are survivors.”
Opening ceremonies speaker Cindy Perkins, of Bowling Green continues to battle brain cancer after surviving skin cancer in earlier years.
“I was crocheting last February when my hand started twitching,” Perkins said. “The next morning I couldn’t use my right arm.”
Doctors initially thought she had a stroke but found a tumor and spots on her lungs.
Through her treatment, “I had to learn how to dress myself and how to walk again,” Perkins said. “I forgot how to do math and lost all sense of time but it came back.”
She also experienced problems with impulse control and found herself eating voraciously.
“Food was a big problem,” she said.
To keep fighting, Perkins has recently completed a pair of 5K runs.
“Cancer or not, my life is full,” Perkins said. “Breakthroughs in cancer are happening every day.”