Why the Relay for Life is still important

Cancer sucks! We've all said it. 17 years ago we began the Relay for Life in Thompson. We've raised a couple of million dollars, and still more and more of our loved ones are being diagnosed with cancer. When we began this relay, my family hadn't been hit by cancer. A few years into relay, my mom was diagnosed with eye cancer. As I write this letter I sit in hospital watching my kind, sweet mother-in-law die from cancer. I'm angry! I'm sad. I'm also more determined than ever that we cannot give up this fight.

Some people think all the money being spent on research is a waste. It is not. Research is our hope. Research saves lives. This year Statistics Canada found research has prevented about 180,000 deaths in Canada since 1988! We have lost too many to cancer and right now it breaks my heart to watch my mother-in-law suffer in pain and her quality of life is not really life. I am praying that she gets to rest soon.

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My heart hurts to think of Trevor Lowe, Shelly Carey, Linda Graham, and so many other loved ones, friends, co-workers and neighbours that we've lost. We have all been touched and that is exactly why we have to keep going. We have to think of all the amazing survivors that will walk the track at our Thompson Relay for Life on April 28 as we cheer them on and celebrate life.

Because we have relayed, during the past five years an additional 33 clinical trials were made in Manitoba providing access to the very latest treatments and procedures for the enrolled 282 Manitoba patients. These are our neighbours and friends, and when we Relay, we help them all, allowing them to access leading-edge cancer care helping them to live longer.

Just recently, a Canadian Cancer Society supported clinical trial helped change the standard of care for a fast growing brain tumour called glioblastoma. This cancer kills 77 per cent of the time. This was the first significant change for this cancer in more than 30 years!

We started a transportation service in Thompson to help patients get to and from treatments. When our neighbours and friends are forced to go to Winnipeg for treatment, this service provides them with rides so they can get to their appointments in a strange city safely and on time. Last year, the Canadian Cancer Society has also helped 23 Thompson area cancer patients with nearly $21,000 of financial assistance to help defray the cost of travel and accommodations during their treatment. Within this region, over 2,000 residents utilized Cancer Society programs last year!

Because Relay for Life participants right here in Thompson spoke up in 2011, the society was able to convince the government to fund cancer treatment and support drugs regardless of where they were taken. Since that time, 19,000 Manitoba families have received 104 million dollars in drug benefits! In Thompson, 105 families have received $1,020,975 in benefits that helps keep money in families pockets during a time that incomes are declining and costs are increasing. Most importantly, it allows cancer patients to stay at home, close to family and friends, where they should be.

Our Thompson Relay for Life committee is proud to say that less than 5 per cent of funds raised at our Relay goes to overhead, which is considerably less than the provincial average of 10 per cent. Our Relay for Life is one of the very best in the country. The Canadian Cancer Society uses Thompson as a model for other communities looking to engage in the cancer fight. We have a lot to be proud of in this community and we should be particularly satisfied in the role we play in Manitoba and in Canada fighting this terrible disease.

The Canadian Cancer Society provides over 40 million dollars in research every year and provides clinical trials that help saves lives to the people of Thompson. More than 2,000 people in Thompson benefit from these programs and services every year. This is local impact!

Thank you for your support of the Thompson Relay for Life this year by reducing the cost of the TRCC by 50 per cent. It means so much to families like mine who are fighting to stay positive in the face of significant challenges. This is our way of letting all cancer patients know that we are with them and we are determined to make a positive difference.

This year I hope that our mayor and council will put in a team and help with the fight. On April 28, we will remember one of our past mayors Bill Comasky, and we will celebrate with survivor councillor Judy Kolada We know you all have family members and/or friends that you have lost to cancer, and those that are currently fighting this horrible disease. We will never give up!

Donna Wilson

Committee Chair

Thompson Relay For Life

© Copyright Thompson Citizen

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