The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Claiborne County is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28 at Harrogate City Park. It begins at 7 p.m. with an opening ceremony and the first lap will be taken by area cancer survivors. The walking will go on throughout the night as teams provide food and activities to raise funds for cancer research and cancer programs that directly benefit patients in the Tri-State Area.
Hundreds of people in the community have spent months raising money to reach the goal of $150,000.
The following are stories of local families who have had first-hand experience with the American Cancer Society and what it can do families in a time on need.
Geneva Ellison will be the guest speaker at the Relay For Life opening ceremony. Here is her interview about her daughter, Brylee.
Q: Tell us about your cancer story.
A: In January 2008 Brylee started getting sick with ear infections, strep throat, RSV & running high fevers on a continuous cycle for 10 weeks. Then I noticed bruising and swollen lymph nodes. I was currently on maternity leave and I was due to go back to work so I called her pediatrician on his cell phone and told him something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. We went into the office and when he examined her he sent us straight to Children’s Hospital for what we thought was probably dehydration. Once there they started running tests. The ER doctor told us Brylee had pneumonia and she was sending another doctor in to examine her. The next doctor told us that Brylee had leukemia but could not determine the type until more testing was done to confirm. Since then Brylee had a blood clot they thought was due in part to the chemotherapy treatment. We had to give her two shots a day of a blood thinner to dissolve it slowly because it was too risky to do anything else. She has undergone physical therapy to regain strength to walk and hold herself up again due to muscle weakening from the steroids and chemotherapy. She still has times when walking is hard and she has a lot of leg, hip and back pains. Brylee’s treatment will be done in May 2010.
Q: How were you helped by the American Cancer Society?
A: I called the ACS and told them about Brylee and gave them our social worker’s name. They sent me a $100 gas gift card to help pay for the many trips back and forth from Harrogate to Knoxville. The ACS has been very friendly & caring.
Q: How is Brylee doing now?
A: Brylee feels good on most days but she is swollen from the steroids about 2 weeks a month and according to her doctor she is just very sensitive to them. The rest of the time she is a normal child with the exception of being limited in some areas.
Q: What would you like for others to know about the work done by the American Cancer Society?
A: It’s not only research they do but they have other sources to help in whatever we need.
Q: What is your favorite part of RFL and why?
A: Seeing a community come together and support each other.
Q: What would you like for the community or someone who may not know about Relay know? Why should they get involved and support the event and organization?
A: Our dollars and our efforts make it possible for more research and closer to a cure.
The following is an interview with Gloria Johnson, of the Howard H. Baker Cancer Treatment Center.
What is your position at the hospital? Clinic Coordinator, Irene & Howard H. Baker Cancer Treatment Center.
How does the American Cancer Society help you help the patients you serve?
At the Irene & Howard H. Baker Cancer Treatment Center, we serve patients with a wide variety of needs. We have patients who need transportation to and from treatment and for those patients the American Cancer Society has the Road to Recovery Program with drivers who can transport patients for treatment. There are patients who need help with transportation cost, especially at a time when their income may be affected by their illness and these patients are assisted with the Transportation Grant.
We also have the Look Good Feel Better Program, which has been very successful at the Irene & Howard H. Baker Cancer Center. Once a month, patients can attend a make over session with makeup kits provided by the American Cancer Society. These sessions are conducted by trained cosmetologist to assist patients with skin care and makeup ideas that can improve how patients feel about themselves and bring about a positive attitude, which is very important during such a difficult time.
The I Can Cope series is also available to patients. This program is offered quarterly and offers a variety of topics such as “Well in Mind and Body”, “Relieving Cancer Pain”, “Communicating Concerns and Feelings”, “Lymphadema”, “Dealing with Esophageal and Gastrointestinal Side Effects of Treatment”, “Caregiver Concerns: How to Care for the Cancer Patient”, and “Nutrition During Treatment”.
In the past qualified individuals have been available from Lincoln Memorial University and the Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine to discuss these topics and help promote the sessions. Also, from time to time, there are patients with special needs or require special services and the American Cancer Society is available to help direct patients to the appropriate individuals or organizations to assist them with these needs. These services are invaluable.
What is the response from patients helped by the ACS?
Very appreciative! You cannot put into words the look on a patient's face or expressions of relief when they feel there is someone to talk with or help them through this time in their lives.
What would you like for others to know about the work done by the American Cancer Society?
Their services are invaluable, the workers are kindness itself. Hopefully, you will never require their services but know there is a great organization out there to help if you do.
Anything else you'd like to share?
The American Cancer Society has wonderful services and wonderful volunteers. Take advantage of their programs and let the employees and volunteers help, it's what they want to do.
The following is a story from Judy Packler, an American Cancer Society Volunteer who wants to spread the word about services available to cancer patients.
I have been an American Cancer Society volunteer for the past 28 years. I started when I was working with children with cancer and at that time resources - educationally, financially, and socially – were not available to them. So many of these families, especially those in rural areas, did not have transportation. At that time there was no Family Leave Act and parents too often could not leave to take the child or adult to treatment because of loss of job and insurance.
Then my own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer immediately after her sister died from breast cancer. This was my mother's first mammogram she ever had. Had it not been for the American Cancer Society providing “Reach for Recovery” she would have been lost as to what to do. I even educated her physician regarding services and the need to have brochures in his office to assist patients to the wonderful work of the ACS.
My mother had family to provide weekly transportation but what about those who do not? The Road to Recovery is a transportation service provided to cancer patients to get them to their medical facility. Here in Claiborne County so many patients are not even aware of this service and end up missing the treatment prescribed for them. With more volunteers here the service could be more publicized. It is hard with only one volunteer to provide such services. Many of the patients do not know the value of all the services they are missing.
The American Cancer Society is saving lives and ending suffering from cancer. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.