Hope is abundant at Relay for Life

June 18, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Tales of survival and hope kicked off an all-night American Cancer Society fundraiser on Friday at South Hagerstown High School.

At each year's Relay For Life, teams walk - and walk and walk - to raise money to beat cancer.

They started Friday and were expected to continue through the night before finishing this morning. Entertainment, movies, music and camaraderie were planned to keep them going.

Kelly Scott, the community manager for the American Cancer Society's Washington County chapter, said last year's relay raised $62,000. This year's goal is $80,000.

A welcome buffet and motivational speeches started the evening.

Marge Gossard, who has worked for Washington County Public Schools for 31 years, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and had a breast removed.


Gossard gained strength and comfort through a network of friends and others going through the same thing.

In April, Gossard learned she had metastatic cancer in her spine. Part is inoperable, part might be slowed by medicine.

"Hopefully, that will work," Gossard said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

Wendy Saylor called herself "chicken" for not giving a speech with friend Dee Lobley at last year's Relay For Life.

This year, with steelier reserve, Saylor described the change cancer brought her - including unexpected overwhelming support.

At first, "I wept and I sobbed and I literally couldn't move" when her doctor said last year that she had breast cancer.

Saylor had surgery and was treated through radiation and chemotherapy until October 2004. Her cancer is in remission.

Lobley still is undergoing treatment for her cancer.

During a "survivors' lap," Saylor and Lobley walked slowly around the South High track, their arms around each other for support.

About 50 people who walked with them glanced down at small bags of sand and candles on the inside edge of the track. The bags recognized those who had beaten cancer and those who hadn't.

Guest speaker Julie Gantz said she was 31 years old, with three children, when she found out she had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

She then zeroed in on the humorous way she coped with a bone marrow biopsy, during which holes were drilled in her tailbone.

To break up the tension, Gantz sang theme songs from "Gilligan's Island" and "The Flintstones." She was partway through "The Brady Bunch" before medication quieted her down.

"That was the end of my a cappella karaoke biopsy," Gantz said.

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