Cancer survivors honored

First Posted: 5/12/2009

Sometimes all anybody needs is someone to talk to.
Someone was available at the Surry County Relay for Life survivors dinner at First Baptist Church Tuesday night. More than 300 meals were served to survivors of cancer at the event in their honor.
Relay for Life has been in Surry County for 14 years with a survivors dinner each year. This years event was sponsored by Gary York with Neighbors and featured a dinner of port-a-pit chicken for each survivor and one guest. The event also served as an opportunity for survivors to pick up their T-shirts before Saturdays survivors walk down Main Street which begins at 4 p.m. Members of Girl Scout Troop #764 helped hand out the shirts as well as fix drinks for the guests.
We planned for 400 survivors, said Dianne Johnson, co-chair of the county Relay for Life event along with Roxanne Moore. We had some new faces this year. Its a whole way of getting things started, of getting people revved up.
Surry County received the Nationwide Number One Power of Hope Award this year for having the most survivors registered of events of similar size across the country.
The event served as more than a jumping off point for Relay for Life, it provided a place for cancer survivors to come together and celebrate life.
Everybodys so thankful for it. It means a lot to them, said Johnson.
The survivor supper is a way of celebrating with other survivors the success that were still here another year, said Beverly Handy, a seven-and-a-half year survivor of breast cancer. To a survivor, thats everything.
I think its great the community has something like this to go to, said Jesse Doss, a survivor of thyroid cancer since 2002. Were really blessed by the amount of survivors we have and by a community that recognizes them. Its a thing to be proud of in the community. When we came in, it was packed. We were just in awe.
For many of the survivors, having cancer changed the way they look at their lives. They have learned to appreciate everything and every day.
Having cancer is a life-changing experience. You learn the hard way. You appreciate every day the Lord gives you, said Handy. Its sunshining in my world every day. Attitude is a lot, faith in God and friends and family and your fellow survivors. We get through one day at a time.
Doss mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and had a recurrence in 2000. She passed away in February 2001, and Doss was diagnosed in May.
It was a whole lot to think about, he said. We had been participating in Relay for a long time, but it took on a whole new meaning.
Being able to talk to others who have had similar experiences can help people to cope with the situation at hand. Having a large number of survivors in the county allows even more people to take advantage of that.
For anybody that has cancer, its like you have a bond with these people, said Handy. Someone with cancer can actually lift your spirits because when they say I know or I understand, you know they do.
Doss said that at first he did not see it as a big deal to have survived thyroid cancer. However, he has since discovered that he has been able to help two people from his church who have also been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Thats how people get through things is being able to talk to somebody, he said.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first Relay for Life event which was held in 1985.
It brings the community together in a common goal in the fight of all cancer, said Handy, who helped organize the first Relay for Life event in Surry County.
The main Relay for Life event for Surry County will take place May 29-30 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. at Mount Airy High School.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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