Why I Participate in Relay For Life

New Englanders explain why they joined and raise money for a Relay For Life event. Please tell us why you joined Relay For Life.

  The day after Thanksgiving my uncle was not feeling well. Fearing he had food poisoning, he went to the hospital.  We were shocked to learn he had a cancerous growth in his stomach. Upon further investigation, it was found that he had stage four pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his stomach, liver, and lungs.  He was given 18 months to live. Sadly, he passed away the day before Valentines Day. My father (his brother)stayed by his side from beginning to end. Unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer exactley one month before this Relay For Life.  His cancer had spread to his liver, rendering chemotherapy useless.  His liver was unable to function properly and he lost his life on Friday, June 7.  In both cases the cancer was so advanced and so pervasive that there was precious little time for goodbyes. I will never be the same without my daddy because I will always be his little girl. Cancer has crushed our family this year, but I'm a fighter and now I am out to crush cancer however I can!!

- Michelle Turner, Connecticut
Mary Cerutti I fell into Relay For Life as a member of a new cancer survivor/caretaker chorus which will open this year's event! 
We just named ourselves, "Alive with Song".  This chorus was spearheaded by the patient navigator at the Central Vermont Medical Center Cancer Center.  I'm a cancer survivor and an avid singer, so of course I signed up when I saw the opportunity in a mailed bulletin. Singing in this chorus is a fun and special way to celebrate survivorship. 

- Mary Cerutti, Vermont
  My son, Jason Pilz, passed away last June of colorectal cancer which had been misdiagnosed when he went to a colorectal doctor a few years prior to his diagnosis. He was told at that time it was irritable bowel syndrome. My mission is to honor my son's memory, and encourage young adults who have pain or colon issues to push their doctors to give them a colonoscopy, even though they are under the age guideline of 50.  Jason's oncologist told us that Jason's cancer started 8 years prior to his diagnosis. It was the same time he went to see the colon doctor.  His oncologist said most likely if he had a colonoscopy they would have found a precancerous polyp or tumor which could have been taken out.  By the time his cancer was found, he had a tumor in his colon and liver. It then spread to his lungs and brain.  I asked Jason's colon doctor why he didn't give Jason a colonoscopy. His answer: we don't give colonsocopies to young adults and insurance companies won't pay for them.  To me that was the wrong answer!!!   It costs insurance companies more money to treat the cancer than to pay for a colonoscopy.  My son died a needless, painful death, I don't want this to happen to anyone else.

- Sharon Pilz, Connecticut
  My mother just recently passed away from brain cancer. She fought for two years until she couldn't fight anymore. She was only 62 and a new grandmother. I miss her so much and wanted to do something to help stop this terrible disease.

- Amber Mazzetti, Connecticut
Amibeth Grandy This past February I lost my young, 56-year-old mother to Alzheimer's disease. When my friend from California called to say her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (again), I just wanted to hop a flight to California and be there for my friend, but I couldn't. A few days later my friend Amanda said she was participating in Relay For Life and wanted to know if I'd join. I said "yes" immediately and phoned my friend in California to tell her. I'm so happy I can do this for my friend and her mom. I know she'll beat this cancer and I'll be thinking of her (along w/ Maureen Paige who lost her battle to lung cancer and my friend Ashley who survived thyroid cancer) as I walk day & night to show my support for ending cancer!

- Amibeth Brandy, Massachusetts
  Ummmm..... Where do I start. My mom passed away at age 62 of lung cancer, my dad is a survivor of cancer, and my nephew fought the lymphoblastic cancer's butt. My aunt, cousin, and close friend are breast cancer survivors. My cousin has stage 4 stomach cancer, taking it one day at a time. Without the American Cancer Society, all my family members and friends wouldn't have gotten the care they needed to survive. For my mom, she was diagnosed too late.  I have several other friends who have had some kind of cancer and are survivors. I really love to witness the Survivors Lap. It is the best lap of the night. The meetings are not only informative but a lot of fun! I have walked for the Gardner Relay for 12 years and my close family members and I started a new team called Breast Foot Forward last year. I love to share my Relay experience with them.

- Marla Bacigalupo, Massachusetts
 Pat Marinone with her husband My daughter Karen Marinone has encouraged our family to participate in any way we can with this Relay.  Daughter-in-law Lynn Marinone will be part of Karen's team.  Daughter Susan will participate, as will I, in the Survivors Lap.  My husband (bone and prostate cancer) continues to receive chemo treatments on a regular schedule and both Sue and Karen are in remission of their very serious cancers (ovarian and pancreatic).  I have survived breast cancer and will turn 84 this year. Son Bill. grandaughter Kate, and friend Elliot will all be manning posts for our sponsor at the walk.

- Patricia Marinone, left, Connecticut
  I am 80 years old and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer three months ago. I hope to walk in Relay with my granddaughter,Tracy Deschaine, who is a 6-year cancer survivor.

- Alice Chasse, Maine
Savannah Nosek I am joining the Relay because I like to help people out when they are sick and they need some help.

- Savannah Nosek, age 7,  Massachusetts
  I started doing this with my family about 4 or 5 years ago. I started doing this in memory of my sister Terry who died in 2000 from cancer. She was only 34 and died 4 days before her 35th birthday. She left behind 5 boys ages 16, 14, 7, 6 and 2. She was my best friend. I also do it in honor of my mom who had cancer when I was little. She was one of the lucky ones to beat this. I also participate in Relay For Lifre for all those who are fighting it now and who will fight in the future.

- Brenda Currier, Massachusetts
  I participate in memory of my husband, Neil, who survived cancer twice with chemo and a stem cell transplant.  I walk for my sister-in-law who lost her struggle with breast cancer at 38 and left behind two small children.  I walk for my parents, both of whom died from cancer. The current technology is amazing, but we need more research and answers for the future. 

- Judy Kalman, New Hampshire
Michele Janota My mother is a 15+ year colon cancer survivor, and this is an event that is near and dear to her. I am walking in her honor, and in remembrance of several family members (including 2 of my 4 grandparents) and friends who have lost their battles with cancer.

- Michele Janota, Connecticut
  After losing my father in 2004 to lung cancer and my mother's best friend's diagnosis to ovarian cancer, a group of us formed our Relay team. Every year it means so much more to us to support the cause, with so many still living and dying from this disease. My mother also lost her brother to brain cancer in 2006. Just this month of May 2013 we lost another family friend, Shirley Greeley, who leaves a husband behind who is battling the disease, as well.

- Dora Smith, Massachusetts
  My father was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in December. I have encouraged my children to get involved because I want them to know they can do something to help their grandfather. A cure can be found to help people like my father and others struggling everyday to beat cancer.

- Carolyn Mariyappa, Connecticut
 Rebecca Erlandson's nephew Last year right before Christmas our nephew was diagnosed with A.L.L and it broke our heart. He is 3 years old and is the strongest little boy I know. He is our hero. We as a family wanted to walk for him and his courageous fight against a horrible disease. No one should have cancer and we're going to make sure we make cancer extinct with every step. Not only are we walking  for our nephew Dino, we are walking for everyone else in our family who has cancer and is fighting and all those who were taken to early by this disease. Our nephew inspires us to stay positive. He faces every obstacle with a smile and energy. Every step we make at Relay is a step closer to making cancer extinct.

- Rebecca Erlandson, Connecticut
  When I was 28 years old I gave birth to my daughter Jessica Renee. Jessica died when she was 2 1/2 months old from a very rare form of cancer which originated in her spinal cord. My mother died from breast cancer. My husband died from cancer of the larynx in 2001. My mother-in-law died from brain and lung cancer. And my sister Barbara was diagnosed with lymphoma. She has survived it. Last October I had to tell my children that I had cancer: follicular lymphoma. I plan on surviving! I finished chemotherapy in March. My hair is growing back....and I am feeling well. I am on the team named Mum's Kids. It is named for my mother-in-law. She had 12 children and was amazing! It is these events that have inspired me to join the Relay For Life!!!

- Anita Carr, Massachusetts
  I have been a cancer survivor for 6 years and thank God every day.  I still go for a periodic cancer check but so far so good.  I have wanted to do this for a long time but because of knee problems, I never did.  This year my daughter encouraged me and said it's about time you do something, you can ride in a wheel chair.  (I will be having a knee replacement 6/5)  She said don't let pride keep you from doing this. Sometimes I think I am still in denial about the whole cancer thing.  I am stepping out and hopefully others will, too.  There are many of us survivors; let's get out there and make a difference!

- Diana Seventko, Maine
Carla Godin My sister-in-law just passed away from a very brief battle with cancer. We are unable to attend her funeral in Mississippi so I thought maybe this would be a way of getting closure. She was a very special woman and will be dearly missed.

- Carla Godin, Maine
  I started  participating in Relay For Life 13 years ago .My family and  I started the same year that I lost my brother to that terrible disease we call cancer. My brother was 29 years old when he passed way. My brother's name was Hicham Malki. He got married the same year that he died. My brother left behind a son, a brother, a mother, father, three brothers, two sisters-in-law, three nephews, three nieces, uncles and aunts and lots of cousins. We all miss him so, so, so much.

- Mohammed Malki, Rhode Island
Lori A. Martin I am a two-time survivor and have so much to be thankful for.  I just want to add my support and encouragement to all of those out there who are still dealing with breast cancer. I wouldn't be here today without the grace of God and the support of my family and friends.

- Lori Martin, Maine
  I'm participating for the first time this year. My sister was diagnosed with an aggressive rare form of breast cancer just about a year ago. She is doing fantastic after chemo, radiation, and a mastectomy. We have always talked about when she was well again, we would walk and support others however we could. Relay For Life is the first event we'll be participating in together since she began her fight.

- Kristin Handy, Massachusetts
Lyndsay McCaffery I was diagnosed with Parosteal Osteosarcoma when my son was just four months old. For a long time I felt so isolated and alone imagining that I was the only person in the world feeling such sadness. It was after my husband and I went to a cancer conference for young adults that I realized I am not alone at all. I left feeling inspired and wanting to give back and meet others who are affected by cancer. I feel by participating in Relay For Life I can continue to more forward in the long journey of physical and emotional healing I have left to face.

- Lindsay McCaffery, Massachusetts
  We lost my 31-year-old nephew to brain cancer that was inoperable and my 89-year-old mother to lung cancer. My sister and I are survivors.  She had melanoma and I had bladder & prostate cancer.
She is in her third year of being cancer free and I have been cancer free for a year and a half.

- Arthur Bickford, Maine
 Alysia Pfeifle with Kristi at left My wife Kristi was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall. She has been so strong during treatment & recovery. Kristi is a very loving and caring woman. She has always taken care of others and has a very difficult time allowing people to care for her. Through this ordeal I have realized just how precious life is and how we take it for granted every day. She is my gift in life and by participating in such a meaningful cause/event I hope that she will see just how important and precious she is to me and to so many others.

- Alysia Pfeifle, Massachusetts
 Susan Strand with daughter Thea and friends Four years ago my daughter, Thea, died from cervical cancer.  I don't want anyone else to go through what she did and what her family did as we supported her during her illness.  Walking the track together in Thea's memory is a wonderful way for our entire family and her friends to celebrate Thea's life.  Another way to honor her memory is to raise money for cancer research so that someday in the not-too-distant future this horrible disease will  be erradicated.

- Susan Strand, Connecticut
Helen Homan and her mom My freshman year of high school my mother was diagnosed with cancer and she fought it for four long years. She was so strong and never let cancer bring her down or stop her from being a mom. She passed away from brain,lung, stomach, bone, ovarian, and a few other cancers, as well, the day after my high school graduation. She did everything for me and my family and I want to return the favor by doing everything I can to help find a cure in memory and honor of my mother.

- Helen Homan, Connecticut
  Our inspiration is, first off, me!  I am a cancer survivor going on 20 years this July. If you are fortunate to survive such a draining of life tragedy, you must give something back! My wife and I have tried in many ways during our time together to help wherever possible. In the past 10 years I have lost my Mom, many friends, and just this past Feb 22nd my Dad, to cancer. If we can inspire as many people as possible to do what we do to help the great cause, the number can continue to multiply in regards to funds for a cancer cure. From what we have seen from the RELAY FOR LIFE, it is just what the doctor has ordered.

Jamie Bilodeau, Vermont
 Gladys Proper In 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer on my left vocal cord and then I found out that I had breast cancer on the right side. I had 18 radiation treatments for my throat then had two surgeries on my right breast, four chemos, and 36 radiation treatments. At the same time, I was dealing with a reconstruction of my broken right wrist. After that surgery I ruptured the tendon in my right thumb.  It was a lot to deal with all last year.  Now I'm feeling a lot better and thought I would give back. I am cancer free, praise God. I do believe I would not have got through all this without my higher power, which I choose to call GOD.

- Gladys Proper, Massachusetts
  I started walking last year for my best friend who is fighting and also for family and friends who lost the battle. It turns out last October I found out I have a tumor on my liver. So, this year I will also be waking for me.

- Christina Vigeant, Massachusetts
 Jenna Goodwin When I was in the 8th grade my mother, Susan Goodwin, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. It was dormant, and it was something we all kind of forgot about. Six years later when I was a sophomore in college (2010),  I recieved a phone call from my dad telling me that mom was in the hospital with a severely low blood count. It was determined that she needed to have chemotherapy because her cancer had become active. In January 2011, after six months of chemo treatments, her cancer become dormant again. She went back to work at Chapman Middle School cafeteria, and she even got to take a cruise with my dad and their friends. In June 2011, my mom became very sick and worn down . . .  her cancer was actve again. My mom was in between the hospital and rehab centers for two months. The only time she got to come home was Thanksgiving. My brothers, my dad and I spent Christmas in the hospital. We were together and that's all that mattered. The day after Christmas, after a PET scan, the oncologist came to talk to my mom privately. My dad came out to the hallway and asked me and my brothers to come into the room. I will never forget that afternoon when through my mom's tears she had to tell us that her cancer was terminal. My mom was, and will always be the strongest influence in my life. That day she told me to make sure I returned to school and graduated. Now this year, I am graduating from UMASS Amherst and although she will not physically see me graduate, I know she will be there. I lost my mom on January 6, 2012.  I participate in Relay to help raise money so no other 20 year old has to lose a loved one and experience so much of their life without them.

Jenna Goodwin, Massachusetts
Just like every family, I have been touched by this disease, My family and friends have, too. I want to make a difference and help others.

- Edward Crespo, Connecticut
Rebecca Dydo   I have a sister who had cervical cancer and is a survivor.  Just recently my brother has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He never smoked a day in his life so it has been a shock to all of us.  I formed a team to try to put some positive energy into what can be a very devastating disease. It is my way of showing my sister and brother that I care!

- Rebecca Dydo, Vermont
Six months ago I lost my father-in-law to lung cancer.  A kind and caring man who had 71 great years, but could of used a few more.  Today, I found out a close friend of mind is terminal from cancer.  This is very difficult.  He has been chronically ill since drastic surgery to "fix" his cancer.  I think you assume they will always be there and forget about the side effects of "surviving" cancer that can continue.  My nephew developed cancer at 21.  He is now 26 and continues to battle the after effects of cancer.  He spends too much time in the hospital due to a weakened immune system.  It would be so great if we could stop cancer in its tracks.I feel we just need to do everything we can to help this become a reality.

- Terri Jo Hill, New Hampshire
In January 2012, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  I started receiving treatments, the weeks went by,  and then I was scheduled to have an operation. While I was getting "pre-op prepped" I had to have an ultrasound. They found out I was pregnant, and my doctor wanted to give the fetus a chance.  Well, after having a healthy baby girl in November 2012, I am back on track and having surgery in April 2013.  I'm hoping and praying this is the start of another beginning, and the ending to this chapter in my life. June 2012 was my first year participating in the Relay For Life. It's such an amazing event and so many people are
there for so many reasons. The supporters are just endless!

- Theresa Butts, Vermont
 Becca Lazinsk  

I am the proud co-chair of the Relay For Life New England College Advisory Team (NECAT), a Relayer for 12 years, and someone who has felt the impact of cancer in my life for as long as I can remember. My Relay journey started when my mom, Lori, was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in 4th grade. After stopping by a Relay while still undergoing treatments, she decided we would start our own Relay team the next year—and we did!

In Dec. 2003, I had a miserable spinal fusion surgery. My mom took care of me 24 hours a day for a month straight and we grew closer than ever. As I was getting better, though, my mom was getting sicker. Her breast cancer had  returned, and it was spreading—quickly. She was re-diagnosed in mid-February and died on March 11, 2004. I was 13 years old.

Family and friends, especially my dad and younger brother, were a great support system, but it was really Relay For Life that gave me hope and purpose at a time when I lacked both. Despite my sadness and confusion over my mom’s death, my love and dedication to Relay soared as it helped me (and continues to today) deal with losing the person I always thought hung the moon.

I joined my hometown event's Planning Committee the year after my mom died, and held various roles over the years. My senior year of high school, I became the co-chair of the event, which would soon go on to be in the Top 25 of New England.  When I arrived at Keene State as a freshman, they didn't have a Relay and I just knew I had to start one. I had a meeting with my future ACS staff partner my second week of school and got the ball rolling. It has been truly amazing to watch our Relay grow from that first event, to its third one last year, where we were more than 100% over our fundraising goal and broke all our other goals, too.

My sophomore year of college, I was chosen to be on the NECAT, and last May, became the co-chair. I also had the awesome opportunity to be a member of the National Collegiate Scout Team this summer, and am currently working on a National Young Professionals group. I have loved every minute of my time spent in all the positions. I believe my mom, and the many others in my life I have lost to cancer, would be very proud of all that I have done in their memories.

There is another fairly recent cancer diagnosis in my life that especially hits close to home: my dad, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the spring of 2011. It was hard for me to wrap my head around being the daughter of two people who had cancer . . .My dad handled his battle with strength and determination, just like my mom had. Today, he is a cancer survivor, and I could not be prouder of him! 

My dad’s diagnosis could have easily made me throw in the towel on just about everything, but I made a conscious effort to be more dedicated to Relay than ever. I truly believe in the American Cancer Society — and I believe that what we are all doing will one day pay off big time. I believe that committing so much of my life to Relay helps make it possible for another little girl to have her mom there for all the big events mine couldn’t be a part of - first date, first heartbreak, first days of school, a tough day when you just need your mom’s advice, a great day with awesome news you just want to share with her, or college graduation, which my mom will be sorely missed at this May. 

- Becca Lazinsk

 Nolan Klein  

My mom had cancer when I was just 10 months old.  She decided to have some pretty extensive surgery, which her doctor thought was unnecessary until he found the bad stuff.
He wanted to know how she knew it was worse than had actually been diagnosed. She said she didn't, but she knew one thing - she had to get home to me and be my mom.
She credits me with saving her life and I know I didn't really save her, but maybe the dollars my friends and I raise can really help to find the cure for cancer. Then I will know that what I have actually done has really saved lives.

- Nolan Klein, Connecticut

I participate in Relay for my Dad, who has been gone 21 years this year (2013) and for my brother who is gone 20 years this year.  Cancer has taken some very vital people in my life those being the closest.  I am a caregiver to my father-in-law presently. He is battling his second cancer.  I am co-chair of the survivor committee at our Relay.  I love, love, love, meeting our survivors and hearing so many stories of success. This year I also am participating in Relay for a little boy named Gavin, a friend of a friend's son. He is in remission but still has treatment for the next year, a vigorous treatment that no toddler should ever have to endure. I want to help find a cure, for all these different forms of this horrid disease.  I would love to never hear the word cancer again.

- Nancy Pereau, Connecticut

 Brenda Buckley

My reason for participating in Relay is because of my daughter, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2005. She has since graduated from college and works as an RN in Ormond Beach, FL.  She always looks forward to the Relay For Life every year and appreciates all people do to fight cancer.  The support that people have shown her means so much to her and our family. I was also blessed with a wonderful friend whose son was diagnosed with leukemia a few years after my daughter. He is now a successful business man and happily married. The Relay gives us parents hope for our children and other people battling such a horrible disease.  Furthermore, I have other family members who are survivors & many who have lost their battle. This is why I am so proud to be a Relay For Life team member!

- Brenda Buckley, Connecticut


I am doing this Relay because of my mother who is a breast cancer survivor, 19 years now.  I saw her go through hell and back. I also have many family members who have been taken from us by cancer. So I do this to honor my MOTHER and the memory of my family members, who will be watching us from heaven.

- Sandra Ferraz, Massachusetts


I wanted to be a part of  Relay For Life because cancer has hit me right in the heart many times in my life. I lost my mom to lung cancer. My sister died from lymphomia. My 27-year-old nephew also was taken by cancer. My best friend died at the age of 37, and left a 12-year-old son behind, and now my goddaughter Jazzy is fighting for her life. Joing Relay is one way to help stop this horrible disease and honor all the memories of people we have lost and pull for the ones who are continuing their fight. I am excited to start a team in
Jazzy's honor as she is a gift from God and a beautiful soul.

- Dawn Lazzara, Vermont

 Katherine Ashmore

I'm participating in Relay for all of the people close to me who have fought cancer; both those who have survived and those who didn't. At a young age, cancer took the life of my uncle, someone who was loved by so many people and who touched so many lives. Especially because of how young I was, I couldn't fully comprehend what happened. This was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. . . I am now a hospice volunteer and many people I've sat and been with were actively dying of cancer and I hear about their lives before they got sick and their families and they all touch my soul. Sometimes I see their families visiting, and see the heartache in their eyes. . . I am participating in Relay to help find a cure and help stop the pain and heartache.

- Katherine Ashmore, Vermont


I am involved because this disease has taken the lives of too many people.  I also am doing this in honor of my daughter-in-law, Lorene Brown, who has fought this battle with breast cancer and she is coming out the winner...She is the strongest most couragous person I know.

- Paul Morgan, Maine

Nikki Blass with her mom and son
Nikki, left, with her mom and son

Relay For Life is more than just an event to me. It is my personal opportunity to help save lives from cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society. On March 10, 2012, my mom was in Boston visiting her grandchildren when she that had a seizure. She ended up at Brigham and Women's Hospital and waited many weeks to hear her diagnosis: brain cancer.  Mom spent over two and a half months in Boston, endless trips to the doctors, endless trips to the ER, tests, fear and tears, medication, so so much for any person to have to go through. Some days we'd be at the hospital all day long going from one appointment to the next. Her suffering ended on October 13, 2012, less than one month after she celebrated her 66th birthday.  I got to see first hand how some of the funds raised by Relay are used. When mom was going for treatment Monday through Friday for two months straight, there were times when we needed help getting her to treatment. ACS provides rides - FREE rides by volunteers. The few times mom was picked up and brought to and from treatment, she received a gift, the gift from a volunteer who gave up their time to bring patients, like mom, to their appointments. Mom enjoyed their company, their stores, and I think she also enjoyed a break from her family. . . The void and numbness just doesn't go away. But I can do something to help others and hope that with more research, another family might be relieved of the pain and suffering we faced as a family and mom faced as a patient.

- Nikki Blass, Connecticut

Tammy Bantle's son and best friend at Relay
At the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my 9-year-old son's best friend's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  The two boys wanted to do something to raise money to help the American Cancer Society. I learned about Relay while I was enrolled in the Livestrong program at my local YMCA and decided this was a great event for the boys to get involved in. Relay For Life really brought our families together and will be an annual event for both families.

- Tammy Bantle, Connecticut
My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer that has spread to the liver, stage IV, back in June of 2012.  That same year we went to Relay.  My husband was doing chemo at the time and was very sick but he was able to do 1 lap around the track.  Seeing all the survivors and caretakers inspired me and my family to get our own team together and do the Relay in 2013.  It has been an eye-opening experience and a trip I will never forget. Every day I count my blessings. My husband is going to be my MIRACLE and together we will beat this terrible disease.

- Debbie Lawrence, Vermont
My dad passed from lung cancer in December of 2002. He and I were very tight and the next April Relay came to Middlebury College. I did not form a team that year because my dad's passing was too fresh for me, but I went and observed the event from a knoll on the hill overlooking it. I decided that night that I would be a part of the event the following year. During that year, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was caught early and she is now a 9-year survivor. It gave me even more reason to take partt....in memory of my dad and in honor of my mom. When it came time to think of my team name, I looked to my grandmother who was the first I knew in my family to die from cancer. She died from pancreatic cancer a number of years before and so I took her maiden name in hopes of getting my family involved. I haven't succeeded in doing that, but I have kept a small core of dear friends who have been there with me each and every year. They have also been affected by this disease and we all hope that our fundraising will one day help find a cure for all forms of cancer. The evening brings me closer to my dad and my grandmother, especially during the luminaria ceremony and I hope to continue to be a part of it for many years to come.

- Carolyn LaRose, Relay For Life of Middlebury College
Greg Davis
I have family members who have been afflicted with cancer, including my father, who died in 1998 of the disease.

- Greg Davis, Maine
A year ago my friends and I lost our friend, Tarsha, who was only 33 and had her whole life ahead of her. The loss was heartbreaking and it's hard to accept that nothing can bring her back. By participating in Relay I hope to help raise money to help find a cure for cancer so no one else has to lose a loved one!

- Kerry Darling, Maine
Vikki Crowley
I participate in Relay because this disease has taken so many members of my family....my sister, my mom, 2 of my aunts, my niece, and my nephew.  A huge number of close friends. This isn't fair. I have survived this disease four (4) times and continue to fight for survival again.  I feel by participating in the Relay I'm getting the word out that I AM NOT GOING TO LET THIS DISEASE WIN!!!  We will do what we can to prevent this from taking any more lives.  ACS has been there to help us FIGHT BACK and as long as I can function daily I will do what I can to END THIS DISEASE!!!!  GET OUT THERE EVERYONE and help me!! I cannot look into the eyes of a child knowing that someday this disease could take them – I don’t want this fear. I want to some day be able to tell a child that cancer WAS a bad disease but some awesome people walked and raised money to find a cure to rid the world of it and they succeeded!!

- Vikki Crowley, Massachusetts
I joined Relay to help find a cure for cancer.  My four-year-old son Marty is battling Leukemia.  It has been a long road but it helps to know there are people who truly care and want to help. That's what keeps me strong and gives me hope. I also lost both my parents to cancer, so I have been dealing with cancer for a long time. I am excited and inspired to be on an awesome team! Go Cancer Slayers!!

- Lisa Wells, Massachusetts
Jessica Barlieb
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Aug. 13, 2012. Since then, I have made many friends who have cancer, as well, one of whom I will walk with at Relay. I have done a few other fundraising walks in the past for other friends and now it's time to do them for me.

- Jessica Barlieb, Maine
 Linda Kosinski
Back in January of 2001 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He was 72 and had retired a few years earlier.  He had not even had time to enjoy his post-work life.  His name was Chuck or Charlie.  Our family thought a radical surgery, the whipple, would be able to save him, but the cancer had spread too fast. He was given 4 months to live.  Charlie made it to June, dying the day after Father's Day.  Skipping to June 1, 2011, my 81-year-old mother was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.  She was given a short time to live without chemo treatments.  She had a heart condition, AFib, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which made her not a good candidate for surgery.  After six months of chemo and a short UTI illness, she began to rally.  She continued  another treatment in May of 2012, but her health began to decline in mid July of 2012.  She stopped the treatments in  August.  She is now dying, losing weight, and having pain.  I'm sure she doesn't have long to live, but she always surprises her family.  It is for my mother and father that I will walk the Relay For Life.  Thanks for this awesome opportunity to raise funds to fight a horrible disease.

- Linda Kosinski, Massachusetts
Samantha Bailey
I participate because of my mom. She had throat cancer when I was 8 years old and lost her voice to it.  Not long after I turned 19, she passed away from another battle with cancer. I want to honor her memory by fighting for a cure.

- Samantha Bailey, Relay For Life of Brunswick, Maine
I've participated in Relay For Life for about 8 years now, usually as captain of a team. There's a certain feeling of unity, support, and peace at Relay that I adore, and of course the funds go towards an amazing cause. I always encourage my friends to join a team, and we always have a wonderful experience.

- Elizabeth Siliato, Relay For Life of Boston University
 Tiffany Parkinson
My 13-year-old daughter Ashley has been participating in Relay for several years with her friends for her grandmother, who had breast cancer but is now cancer free.  I decided to start a team for my younger daughter, who is 9, and her cheerleading friends because they have always wanted to participate as well. So, this is my first  year with a team of younger ones. It is such a good cause to teach them to care about.
- Tiffany Parkinson, Connecticut
My first time participating in a Relay For Life was in 2011 at the Quinnipiac University event in Connecticut. I lost my grandfather to lung cancer only a couple of weeks before the event. Because of this, the event hit me harder than I had expected. It was an emotional night, but I walked with my Alpha Chi Omega sisters and I couldn't have asked for a better support system. The event made such a huge impact on my life and I knew right away that I would want to start my own team in the future. After being abroad in Ireland for the 2012 QU event, I decided that this was the year to do it. My grandparents and aunt, all on my dad's side, have been fortunate enough to beat cancer while my grandmother on my mom's side was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer and my (step) grandmother on my mom's side is still fighting the same cancer that I lost my grandfather to. I couldn't think of a better way to support and honor each and every one of them than to start a Relay For Life team and work with my friends and family to raise as much money as possible for this incredible cause.

- Alexandra Colarusso, Connecticut
 Bridgette Braley
Four years ago my mom passed away from ovarain cancer.  She was only 59.  She battled hard and eventually the cancer took over.  She was the most amazing, funny, and loving person I knew.  She was a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and fantastic nana to her two grandchildren, Max and Molly.  Just recently my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Once again cancer is on the front line in my family.  I want it out of my life forever!!  I want to play a role in helping find a cure for this disease.

- Bridgette Braley, Massachusetts
My husband has lost two family members to cancer, his grandmother and his uncle. Two years ago my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. While having his treatments they discovered that he also has pancreatic cancer. They removed his pancreis but the cancer has traveled to his chest. This is a daily thing we live with for the third time.

- Laurie Moulton, Maine
Claudia M. White
It seemed natural to me to start participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life after being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Lisa Ugguccioni, from the Rocky Hill, CT office was instrumental during my cancer journey. I met her in the infusion room during a chemo treatment.  She told me that I was a survivor the day I was diagnosed. I thought that I had to complete my treatment before I could be called a survivor.That statement that she gave me was a gift, and it propelled me into a mind shift of determination and a positive attitude, knowing that I was already a survivor. I also know the 100-year history of the ACS and understand that my survival is due in great part to the research funded by the American Cancer Society. So, simply, it is my turn to give back to such a wonderful organization.

- Claudia White, Connecticut
My daughter, Amina, is about to celebrate her 8th birthday, thanks to the advances in cancer research!  Just before Amina turned 4, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and spent the next 25 months - until she was almost 6 - undergoing chemotherapy.  We are so grateful that she is now 2 years off treatment and enjoying every minute of her childhood!  We are grateful for all the contributions that helped her reach survivorship!  We have so much to celebrate as her life is a precious gift that we cherish - thank you!

- J. Dallahi, Relay For Life of Greater Derry & Londonderry
Maura O'Connor I Relay for my best friend Caitlin who overcame a brain tumor, for my best friend Allison who beat thyroid cancer.
I Relay for my grandma who is battling multiple myeloma. I Relay for my best friend;s Dad who was lost to melanoma this past summer, and
I Relay for my friend Jason who is fighting for his life against osteocarcoma. Without Relay For Life and all the money it raises for research and support programs, my two best friends might not be alive, and my friend wouldn't be able to fight as hard as he is. Even though we are all different, Relay For Liife brings everyone together to do good for someone other than themselves.

- Maura O'Connor, Relay For Life of Northeastern University
 Rose Flynn I am first a wife and mother then a cancer survivor. I was shattered when I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in May 2011. Went through the bi-lateral mastectomy in July 2011 and then had 28 treatments of radiation. Walked my very first Relay in June 2012. I did this with both my girls and husband with me. Not to mention all the other very important people without whom my experience would have been even a worse nightmare then what it was. We walked 24 hours and raised just shy of $10,000.Now looking forward to 2013.

- Rose Leonard-Flynn, Massachusetts
  I started participating in the Relay in 2004 after losing my Grandmother to cancer in 2003.  Since then so many lives have been lost and so many people are fighting this awful disease. The Relay gives me 2 days to really remember and celebrate the people that I have lost and think of the people still fighting.  I am a Committee member as well as a Team Captain.  It is a big commitment but I couldn't have it any other way.

- Shelley King, Relay For Life of Wareham
 Jim Thompson In April of 2011, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the young age of 37. Sitting in that doctor's office and hearing him tell my wife that she had cancer was probably the most difficult conversation I have ever been part of. For the longest time, I think we were in a state of shock. . . After lengthy discussions with doctors, counselors, specialists, and tears with family and friends, I realized that there was nothing I could do to help.  I was forced to put the life of the person who means the most to me in someone else's hands. Thankfully, with newly available technology and treatments, my wife made it through the first round better than I could have imagined. After a second round of surgery a few short weeks later, we found ourselves back in the same oncologist's office waiting for word on where our journey would take us next. What he said surprised both of us and I'll never forget the smile on his face: "We got it all, the tests came back negative, and you are now cancer free". . . Over the last 10 months we have had many follow up exams and worried that it'll be back. I would love to say we have not had our share of scares, but we continue to fight together and we know that we've beat it once, we can beat it again. This year [2012], we walk this Relay in a way we never have before:  We walk together as Survivor and Caregiver."

- James Thompson, Rhode Island
I am participating Relay because I believe you should be the strength for others who are battling a sickness. Nine years ago I lost my mother to a 10-year  battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma,  Shortly after that, my eldest brother died suddendly and then my father passed away after a severe heart attack. My dearest friend is currently fighting MS. Additionally, my aunt won a terrible fight with breast cancer and is a survivor. And, I too, have had some severe health issues for a 38 year old. So if anyone believes this, it is me: "Keep your chin up, it can always be worse" so...FIGHT THE FIGHT AND WIN.

- Chentelle Smolinsky, Connecituct
 Jessie Currier I was 6 years old when my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia. I remember visiting her in the hospital, but I never really understood what was happening. How do you explain cancer to a 6 year old? On each visit, while my dad put on my face mask, he explained to me how important it was for me to keep it on. He said it would protect my mom from getting sick. One day, I was in the hospital room with just my mom and my mask came loose. She reached over to fix it but I told her she couldn't touch it. I thought she was trying to take it off and I wasn't supposed to do that. She tried again and I started crying, telling her again that she couldn't touch it. She just broke down. I had never seen her cry like that. That is the last of very few memories I have of my mother. She passed away on March 20, 1996, at the age of 33. . . . My dad has given me many of my mom's belongings over the years. In one of the boxes was a diary she had kept while she was sick. There weren't very many entries in it but some of the words she wrote will stick with me forever: January 18th, 1996, ride to the hospital to be admitted: "I was okay until we were in the car and I started thinking about leaving the kids. Of course, I couldn't hold back the tears." February 4, 1996: "Saw Nicole and Jessie through window, kids both sick." I didn't understand at the time why my mom was cryiny;  I thought she was mad at me for not letting her fix my mask. I know now that it was much more than that. . . I walk in Relay not only in memory of my mother, but also with the hope that a cure for cancer will be found. I hope that someday, no one will ever have to feel the way my mom did throughout her fight. Cancer took her life from her before even she passed away. No one deserves that.

- Jessie Currier, New Hampshire
I participate in Relay because 19 years ago, 6 wks after turning 21, 3 days after college graduation, and 3 months shy of my wedding day, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. My prognosis was grim: 50/50 and doctors told me I would never be able to have children. This was NOT acceptable! After having brain surgery in June 1994, I sufffered a CVA (stroke) to the opposite side of the brain. I was confined to a wheelchair for 2 months, and I vowed that I wasn't going down the aisle on wheels. I graduated to a walker w/ 4 weeks left 'till the big day. I went to PT everyday for sometimes 3-4 hours a day so I could ditch that walker and WALK down that aisle. My final PT visit was the day before my wedding and I did walk down the aisle, slowly but unassisted and that's what mattered to me. That was in September 1994. In January 1995, we bought our house and I asked my doctors if I could please try to get pregnant w/ their blessings? They all agreed there would probably never come a day when I could have everyones blessings and they gave me the little head nod. Today I am the proud mother of FOUR beautiful amazing children - 2 boys ages 16 & 14 and identical twin girls age 7. They all keep me very busy. I work, I go to school, and I am currently battling another form of cancer (very rare) - Mast Cell Cancer. I have been doing chemo for the past 3 years. I just learned last week that I will have to start a more aggressive form of treatment. In the meantime, other than my health woes, I am living my fairytale and that's all I could ask for right now.
- Aprile Johnson, Connecticut
Mary Ann LaRocque
I participate in Relay for the families and loved ones who have lost someone to cancer. I lost my dad when I was 18 years old. There wasn't enough time to say and do all the things I wanted. Since that time I live my life with the philosophy that we are not guaranteed a certain amount of time and we need to make every day count. This is my way of making it count.
- Mary Ann LaRocque, New Hampshire
 Nancy Jennings
In October, 2011, I lost my dear husband, John, after a five-year battle with bladder cancer.  My youngest daughter, Laura, looked into Relay For Life, and asked me what I thought about participating in the next one to be held in Orleans, MA, in May 2012.  I had told John I would do everything I could to raise funds for cancer research and so we signed up and experienced an emotional, but truly rewarding weekend. The experience of Relay has helped me in my healing process. I know I have a long way to go, but I look forward to next year's Relay and the hope it brings toward finding a cure for all cancers.  The experience of doing the Relay For Life with my family also helped all of us to remember and honor John, husband, father and grandfather.
- Nancy Jennings, Massachusetts
Caroline Casey
My journey with Relay began almost six years ago. It seemed like a normal day at school; I didn't suspect that I would get home with news that would change my life forever.  My parents sat me down that night and introduced me to something I had never even heard of: Cancer. They told me that one of my classmates had passed away because of this disease. I was crushed. A bit later, cancer struck again. "Caroline, Grandpa has cancer" my parents said late one night. Who knew four words could change your life. My grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia. He was full of life and just loved everything about it, especially his family. I spent weekends with him - swimming in the pool, making Jello, and learning to play football. He was my best friend and there was nobody in the world that I loved more. Cancer took him away from me when I was only 9 years old. That day, I vowed to fight back. I spoke at the funeral, promising exactly that. A year later, I was introduced to Relay. I was so grateful to have found a community of people whose lives had been torn apart by cancer. They knew how I was feeling, and they knew that we have to fight to find a cure. Over the years, I have heard those words again. "Grandma has cancer" is one that I have heard more than once, and each time my grandma bravely goes in and fights the cancer. My aunt and godmother fought cancer, too, and came out victorious. About a year ago, I was informed that my aunt has stage 4 lung cancer. Another family member fighting for her life. I joined Relay the year after cancer took my grandpa and I have been involved ever since.

- Caroline Casey, Connecticut
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