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    Connie Ball and Laurel Remus are having a blast at the Relay for Life. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Greg Hanniman hulks out to fight cancer. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Lennon Leedham, 2 ½, and Lela Barras are cheering on their friends and family. They are also honouring the memory of their uncle Alex Barras. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Luminaries, decorated by hand, line the track. Each created in honour of somebody who is fighting the disease. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    The new amalgamated Renfrew County Relay for Life raised $97,715 in the fight against cancer. The event was held on June 22 at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. At the opening ceremonies, Pembroke Recreation Programmer Elijah McKeown, Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office Community Engagement Specialist Lana Gorr, Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy, 2018 Honourary Survivor Susan Hanniman, Relay for Life Committee Chair Cindy Giroux and Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office Manager Roger Martin cut the ribbon. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Accompanied by her husband Garry, 2018 Honorary Survivor Susan Hanniman shares her story. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    The Pembroke Memorial Centre’s indoor track was the perfect place for the walkers and runners to complete their six-hour march. Those wearing a yellow t-shirt are designated cancer survivors. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



Relay for Life raises $97,715

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

After almost 20 years in Petawawa, the Renfrew County Relay for Life was held at the Pembroke Memorial Centre, attracting about 300 people and raising $97,715.

This surpassed its goal of $91,250 in the fight against cancer. This thrilled Relay for Life committee chair Cindy Giroux, who was delighted to see so many people turn out to walk on June 22. “Far too many of us here understand how cancer changes everything,” said Giroux. “Whether it is your own diagnosis or that of a loved one or a friend. We are all here because cancer affects our lives. “What brings us together is our vision in creating a world where no one dies of cancer,” she added.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and in 2017, over 200,000 people were diagnosed. Though one in two Canadians will be diagnosed, nearly 90 per cent of new cases and 96 per cent of cancer deaths occur in those aged 50 and over with the highest proportion in those 80 years and older. Thanks, in part, to research funded by events like the Relay, cancer death rates are on the decline while survivability has risen to about 63 per cent.

Susan Hanniman was one of the lucky ones. She received the diagnosis of Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare form of the blood disease, in 2015.

It took several appointments and tests before receiving the devastating news. “They had apparently never seen a case like mine,” said Hanniman.

In addition to chemotherapy, as part of her treatment she successfully received a bone marrow transplant in April 2016 and is now considered cancer-free. Because she does have the Philadelphia chromosome, she must have check-ups every three months to ensure she remains healthy. This chromosome is found in 20 to 25 per cent of the population.

She encourages everyone to donate blood and to join the bone marrow registry, as it could one day save a life. “The average leukemia patient requires 25 units of blood and numerous bags of platelets,” said Hanniman. “A transplant recipient requires a stem cell donor. “Strangers donated time, money, blood and stem cells,” she added, pointing out that her loved ones were spared the pain of losing her due to this generosity.

As the Honourary Survivor of 2018, she led the Relay. There were several changes to the event, including the new location, the amalgamation of the Whitewater Relay, and shortening the walk from 12 hours to six.

Though it has a serious undertone, the Relay is a joyful event that creates bonds between the walkers.

Colourful tents were set up inside the PMC and the walkers used the track to walk, run and dance the night away. Many adhered to this year’s Hollywood theme, dressing as their favourite movie characters. Balloon animals, face painting, and lively music created a cheerful atmosphere, and at 10 p.m., the luminaries were lit in memory of those lost.

“For 20 years, the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life has united communities from all across Canada with teams of families, friends, and colleagues joining together to celebrate cancer survivors,” said Giroux.

As is tradition, the first walk around the track was the Survivor’s Lap, in honour of those who either survived cancer or are currently fighting the disease. Once a full lap was completed, supporters joined them.

“We are all very thankful for your hard work and fundraising,” said Canadian Cancer Society community engagement specialist Lana Gorr.

The top four individual fundraisers were: Corrie Bourgoin - $3,295.90 for her team MNR/Welsh, Paula Neville - $1,970.60, Susan Hanniman, Honourary Survivor - $1,905.50, and Kerri Carroll - $1,768.80.

The top four fundraising teams: MNR/Welsh - $9051.90, Families Fighting Back - $5,307.40, YaYa’s - $4,164.20, and Sisters with Blisters - $3,410.60.

This year’s presenting sponsor - Scotiabank; Luminary Sponsor - Griff Slaughter; Survivor Sponsor - Rexall Foundation; Site Sponsor - City of Pembroke; Media Sponsor – MyFm; Entertainment Sponsor – Dunbar Home Inspections; and Signage Sponsor – SunSign Graphics.