More than 100 participate in inaugural Relay for Life event

June 22, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Cancer survivors walk the survivor lap to kick off the Relay For Life of Southern Washington County Friday night at the Washington County Agriculture Education Center near Sharpsburg.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO, Md. — When Selena Doyle’s mammogram test results came back inconclusive last August, she first thought she would just have to take the test again.

“The year before, my mom’s test came back inconclusive, so I thought no big deal....,” Doyle recounted Friday night at the Relay for Life for Southern Washington County.

Then, she felt a lump while taking a shower.

She thought it was hematoma from the mammogram. It wasn’t.

“I was shocked because I felt healthy,” Doyle said of her diagnosis, which came Sept.12.

Doyle and her husband, Chris, himself a survivor of kidney cancer, joined a little more than 100 participants in the inaugural Relay for Life event held at Washington County Agricultural Education Center south of Hagerstown. 

Cathy Beckley-Thomas, community manager for the American Cancer Society in Washington County, said 10 teams organized for the all-night event, which set a $30,000 fundraising goal. About $17,000 has been raised so far, Beckley-Thomas said.

The event was organized to reach out to areas in Washington County that have experienced substantial growth in the last 10 years and may have little community connection to Hagerstown, Beckley-Thomas said.

Event chairwoman Beth Clipp said a committee of eight to 10 people organized the relay with the mission of bringing awareness to Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Keedysville and other southern Washington County communities.

Clipp said fundraising has been “exceptional,” and she was pleased with the community response.

“(We have) no records to beat this year,” Clipped joked.

Sherry Gagnon of Brownsville was a member of “Generations,” a relay team composed of about dozen or so members of the women’s Sunday school class at Brownsville Church of the Brethren.

“We have a few (cancer) survivors,” Gagnon said.

The group held a dinner, bake sale and raffles to raise money and donned purple tie-dye shirts for the relay.

“We’re ready for the all-nighter,” Gagnon said, smiling.

Cancer survivor Debbie Slick of Boonsboro said 2012 was her third year of participating in Relay for Life, but she was elated to have the event close to home.

“It’s very tough when you hear that you have cancer,” Slick said, recounting her battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

For Doyle, who has undergone chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment as recently as April, Friday’s event was another reason for her to hope for a cure by raising more money for cancer research.

“In my case, I no longer count the days, but I make every day count,” Doyle told those gathered for the start of the relay.

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