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Follow us to a world with more birthdays Fundraising Buzz Relay In Motion

Inspiring stories and Relay highlights for all California Relayers and supporters.

Fundraising ideas and tips for all California Relayers

California Committee Members


 March 2011
In this issue:
-Karoke for a Cause
-Relay Reunion
-Candy Gram
-Parking Space Auction

  March 2011
In this issue:
-When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Relay For Life Kid!
-Training Corner: A Pat on the Back
-Ifusing Mission into Relay
-Relay Promotion
February 2011
In this edition:
-Fundraising Idea: Hand-Painted Umbrellas
-T-Shirt Vote
-B3 Update

February 2011
In this issue:
-Talent Show
-Hand Painted Umbrellas
-Coffee or Cocoa
-Showers bring Flowers
-Rose for your Love
-Date Auction
-All You Need is Love Disco

  February 2011
In this issue:
-Got Rally?
-Purple Family Room
-Pre-Relay Survivor Engagement
-A Campaign of Threes
Janaury 2011
In this issue:
-Lights, Camera, Action
-Bowling for Relay
-Think Mom
 Submit your topic for Relay In Motion here.

November 2009


October 2009


August 2009


July 2009


June 2009


May 2009


April 2009


March 2009


January - February 2009


Relay Cool Stuff

December 2008 Edition

Hello Everyone -

A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to bring the Relay For Life volunteer leadership together for two days of training, relationship building and fun at our California Division Summit in Los Angeles. For those of you who attended, I hope that you found the experience to be a memorable one and that you left energized and ready to put the information you received into action!

All of the hard work each of you is doing is clearly paying off. As you will see below, for the first time in the ten years that the statistics have been kept, cancer mortality and incidence rates dropped together during the same year. That is very encouraging news, and all of you who take the time to make the fight against cancer a priority in your lives have made a contribution toward those results. We don’t always see the immediate impact of our work to battle cancer, but this development is a clear sign that our collective work is making a difference, and we need to keep it up!

At Summit, I mentioned the importance of three things we need to do right now to ensure we keep our momentum:

  1. support our baby Relay events
  2. continue to educate our volunteers and communities about our cause
  3. embrace best practices and innovation as ways to keep our events fresh

I believe these priorities are important for our continued success, and hope that you will work with your fellow committee members and supporters to find ways to meet these objectives.

But before you get cracking on planning your remarkable events for next year, I hope that you will find plenty of time to relax as we head into the heart of the holiday season. I am so grateful for the hard work each of you is doing to make a difference in the fight against cancer and really feel blessed to be working with such a passionate bunch of people. Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, and let’s get ready to charge into 2009.

Jose Ramos
Division Relay For Life Team Chair



The American Cancer Society has selected Dawn Ramsay to join the International Relay For Life Volunteer Training and Advisory Team. Dawn Ramsay is currently the Co-Event Chair for the Relay For Life of Vacaville as well as the Regional Lead Volunteer for the Greater Bay/Redwood Empire of the California Division of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

Dawn’s in-depth knowledge of Relay For Life and of the American Cancer Society’s mission, programs and services coupled with demonstrated leadership skills and proven facilitation, presentation and training skills are a great asset to this team.

Members will each facilitate an international training to build the knowledge of the volunteers of licensed Relay organizations and to support these volunteers as they plan their local RFL events abroad. Post-training, the Training and Advisory Team member’s experience and expertise will be drawn upon as they serve as a mentor for one year following a training.

"The International Relay Training and Advisory Team will be the voice of Relay volunteers and will empower the grassroots Relay efforts of volunteers and cancer survivors of all of our partner organizations," said Iris Pendergast, Lead Training Manager for International Relay For Life.

Since 1996, the Society has licensed Relay For Life to international cancer organizations with the goal of strengthening cancer organizations worldwide by providing a platform to build public awareness about cancer and survivorship and to raise critical resources and support for their programs. The Society’s International Relay For Life Program supports licensees through ongoing training and technical assistance offerings to ensure their successful implementation and development of the Relay For Life model. Relay For Life events are now held in 20 countries throughout the world. More information on International Relay For Life and international event dates is available at

    RFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _Save Mart          

News From the American Cancer Society

Cancer Death Rates and Incidence Down, Annual Report Shows

The cancer death rate in the United States continues to go down, a new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations says. What's more, cancer incidence -- the rate at which new cancers are diagnosed -- also appears to be dropping. The findings come from the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2005, Featuring Trends in Lung Cancer, Tobacco Use and Tobacco Control. Read more here. Watch video of this report.


Save Mart Supermarkets increases Relay For Life Support California and in Northern Nevada


 RFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _Food MaxLarge         RFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _Smart Foods

Save Mart Supermarkets will be participating in a statewide Relay For Life icon (Stars & Moons) campaign in 250 stores May 31, 2009. The funds raised by purchases of Stars & Moons cutouts during the campaign will go right back to the community’s Relay!

The private, California-owned and -operated company maintains a strong grass roots philosophy of investing in its communities, operating under the Save Mart Supermarkets, Lucky Stores, FoodMaxx and S-Mart banners.

Following are more details about the campaign:





Save Mart will track sales of the Stars & Moons cutouts and income will go to the Relay in the community that generated the income
Save Mart will encourage employees to get involved
Stores will get kits with supplies of Stars & Moons
All 250 stores will get a list of Relay event dates and locations

Because of Save Mart’s statewide commitment to the Stars & Moons program, we ask that you do not go into your local stores and ask for sponsorship dollars. However, Save Mart stores are encouraging you to stop by, meet the store managers and invite them to your local kickoff meetings maybe they’ll be interested in starting a team! This is a fabulous opportunity for the American Cancer Society to partner with a generous company that is 25,000 employees strong.

We will continue to keep you posted in the coming months, but in the meantime, let’s show the Relay spirit by supporting your local Save Mart Supermarkets, Lucky, FoodMaxx and S-Mart stores in their effort to give back to our Relay communities in the coming year!

For more information on this great partnership, please email Vita Sarginson, corporate relations manger at or Cheryl Brunk, director, Community Services at

  Start Planning Your New Year's Resolution!

Fight Back in December-

Visit the Fight Back page on and talk to your staff partner and mission delivery chair about ways you can Fight Back this month and at your event! Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • New Year’s Resolutions are a great way to fight back. Think about these areas when you’re enjoying the holidays with friends and family:
  • Quit smoking or help a loved one quit smoking. The American Cancer Society has everything you need to get started!
  • Be sun-safe this winter and year-round by remembering: Slip! Slop! Slap!… and Wrap!
  • Read the American Cancer Society’s complete guide to Nutrition and Physical Activity or just read the cliff notes!

Tell us about how you fought back this month!


Advocacy UpdateRFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _J Seffrin



A Message from American Cancer Society National Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Seffrin:

For the last three years, the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM, have been actively engaged in a nationwide effort to address the major public policy issues surrounding access to quality, affordable health care. Together, our enterprise has made extraordinary progress in this groundbreaking campaign, which has been focused on ensuring that every American has access to quality cancer prevention, detection, and treatment when and where they need it. Of all the barriers that stand in our way to potentially achieving our 2015 cancer fighting goals, lack of access to quality health care is the only one that I believe could stop us.

Today, we stand at a crossroads as a nation; and in my view see greater potential to save lives and reduce suffering than at any other moment in my lifetime. Fortunately, as a result of the highly successful first phase of our Access to Care initiative, we are now poised to renew higher-profile efforts and take advantage of targeted opportunities to achieve significant impact on our lifesaving mission. We are committed to making sure the needs of cancer patients and their families are heard as our nations newly elected officials work to address the economic and health care crises that confront us. Some say that we cannot afford to improve the health care system right now. But the cost of doing nothing is simply too great. Waiting comes with a price when health care costs continue to rise faster than wages and meaningful health insurance becomes unaffordable for more and more American families every day.

Access to health care is a critical issue in the overall fight against cancer, and we must continue our important work to keep this issue front and center. In the next phase of our work on this issue, we intend to leverage our hard-earned "seat at the table" in the important policy debates that are under way in Washington, DC, and across the country. We will also focus on the need to transform the current health care system into one that places more emphasis on cancer prevention to both improve health outcomes and control skyrocketing health care costs. And, because we also know that much more needs to be done post-diagnosis to improve the quality of life of people who are facing cancer, we will look for ways to reduce suffering during and after treatment by enhancing quality of life and ensuring patient and family preferences at the end of life. We can make a major contribution by emphasizing the importance of quality, evidence-based care that prevents people from getting cancer, detects and treats cancer most effectively, and enhances quality of life.

By tackling these issues head on, I believe there is enormous potential to improve access to quality health care for all Americans today which will no doubt bring us closer to a future where cancer is no longer a major public health issue.

I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together thus far to improve access to health care. The Society and ACS CAN are now positioned to make a real and positive impact, leveraging our unique strengths and the collaborations we have worked hard to build and foster. As we move forward with the next phase of this campaign, we will update you regularly and keep you engaged. I know you all will remain committed to the Societys efforts to lead the way, achieve results, and make a significant contribution to our lifesaving work.

Thank you for your continued support.

John R. Seffrin, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, National Home Office


5 Tried and True Tips

1. Fundraising: "H" is for hope Get the fundraising started early at your kickoff meetings by asking everyone in attendance to take a look at each of the dollar bills they have with them. If the serial number has an "H" in it, ask that they donate it to the hope that Relay gives to so many survivors, caregivers and patients every day!

2. Team Recruitment: Return to Relay Did you receive the November 25 email featuring video of California Division CEO David Veneziano and Relay For Life California Division Chair Jose Ramos? The message encourages people to "return to Relay" and celebrate 25 years of Relay this year. Forward the message along to people you know who have lapsed in their Relay participation or access the video here.

3. Survivor Recruitment: Reach out to Activity Directors Reach out to the Activity Directors at local rest homes and assisted living facilities. You’ll probably find a few survivors and the Activity Directors will appreciate having a free event that residents can attend and be cheered on during the survivor lap.

4. Sharing the Mission: Take the Great American Health Check Encourage attendees at kickoff meetings to take the Great American Health Check, which is an interactive online tool that can help people assess their risk of getting cancer and provide a customized action plan to help improve overall health. The health check is available at

5. Marketing Your Event: Take Relay to the skies! One participant flying home from the California Division Relay For Life Summit convinced the flight crew to do a "Show Us Your Hope" event. The crew turned off the overhead lights, then turned them back on one row at a time! What a great way to take the luminaria ceremony to a whole new level of awareness!

Do you have a few tried and true tips of your own? Send us your secrets to success by clicking here.


Profile of Courage


Renita Wickes, ovarian cancer survivor, caretaker and Relay For Life of Barstow Team Recruitment chair is one of 13 Heroes of Hope in California. Heroes of Hope are cancer survivors who represent courageous voices of hope. They serve as regional spokespersons and broaden the reach, effectiveness and outreach of survivorship year-round. We’ll introduce you to a new Hero each month!

I will never forget the morning of August 12, 1997. Two weeks prior, I had gone to the doctor with abdominal pain… He began to explain that the mass they found was cancerous. I can’t say I remember what he said after that, but I do recall feeling cold, scared, alone and wondering: Who would I give custody of my two beautiful daughters when I was gone?Celebrate means to rejoice, to show happiness, to mark an occasion and I can tell you that I am someone who knows how to celebrate!

I celebrated graduating from high school and moving out to be on my own. I celebrated meeting the man of my dreams and getting married. I celebrated giving birth to my children. And I celebrated when my husband returned home safely from Iraq.

But we all know life is not always full of fun. In 1997, I did not feel I had a reason to celebrate. I will never forget the morning of August 12, 1997. Two weeks prior, I had gone to the doctor with abdominal pain. As he looked over the medical records, he commented that a couple of years back the doctor had found a cyst on my ovaries and they should do an ultrasound to see what was going. So there I was, sitting and hoping that this would be a repeat experience and I would go on my merry way. Unfortunately, that is not what he said, as he began to explain that the mass they found was cancerous.

I can’t say I remember what he said after that, but I do recall feeling cold, scared, alone and wondering: Who would I give custody of my two beautiful daughters when I was gone?

I was already giving up. What made it worse was that the man I was married to decided cancer was grounds for a divorce and quickly departed before seeing my hair slowly fall out from chemotherapy. My family was 2,000 miles away and I felt alone.

Then someone told me about the American Cancer Society. We called and they were there. I celebrated knowing the American Cancer Society and the counselors on the phone and the information they gave me. I think sometimes I called them just to have someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay.

I had a short fight and was thankful to my oncologist at Loma Linda. Then, I had the celebration of my life! That party went on for a week as I thanked God for sparing my life so that I could raise my girls.

The following year, I again celebrated knowing the American Cancer Society when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I quickly gave her the number and she began her journey. During that time, I celebrated the smallest things with her and always found a reason to send flowers or a small gift.

In 1999, a friend told me about an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society called Relay for Life and signed us up to start a team. The first year, I came out to just walk the survivor lap and have fun with my friends. I don’t think I took in the real value of that event but in the years since, Relay For Life has become one of the most precious things to come into my life.

In 2000 my mother came for a visit. She was having so much fun and then became very ill. She spent a month here in the hospital and then was told she could not fly for two months. So for that short time we were her caregivers. I cherished and celebrated my talks with her and I knew what a blessing I was given each time I brushed her hair or fed her dinner. For the two years following, I called her every day. Each time we had a question about her treatment, we would call the American Cancer Society.

In 2002, my mother lost her battle and my best friend was gone. But I celebrated her life and the time we had to spend with her. That same year, I convinced the company I worked for to start a Relay for Life team. I explained that Relay for Life was an event that raised money for the American Cancer Society to help fund research, advocacy, education and patient services. I told them how important this event was to cancer survivors and their friends and family and especially to those who had lost loved ones to the disease. I celebrated as our company recognized the survivors who worked for them. Who would have known that a 24-hour event could bring so many people together that at this one event, the survivors of one of the most unforgiving diseases could celebrate the fact that they won a battle lost by so many.

For me, Relay for Life was the event I needed to finally come to terms with the fact that cancer had affected my life. I was in denial and the first time I walked that track in my mother’s name I cried. I cried because I was angry that cancer did so much harm to my family. But then I realized that it was doing more than that. It was causing me to forget to celebrate all the good things. So I began to celebrate all the good memories before, during and after cancer came into my life.

I cannot express what joy has come to my life because if the organization that helped save me. The American Cancer Society saved my life, it help sustain my mother’s for the time we had her and it has given me hope. I celebrate every day of the year. Each day I found a reason to say thank you for my life.

People ask me, ‘how you can be so happy through all that you have been through?’ and I tell them an event called Relay for Life gave me the courage to look cancer in the eye with all the other cancer survivors and tell it: We are celebrating the life that you thought you were taking. We are celebrating the strength that you gave us. We are celebrating because we know with each voice, with each dollar raised, with survivor that we are getting closer to celebrating the end of your existence.

Renita Wickes, Team Recruitment chair
Relay For Life of Barstow



National Corporate Teams Program Update

The national Relay For Life® Business Unit and the Employer Initiative are pleased to announce that four new companies will participate in the 2009 Relay For Life National Team Program (NTP)!

In 2008, 37 companies represented by 800,000 employees on nearly 7,300 teams raised nearly $18 million through the Relay For Life NTP to support the fight against cancer. The addition of these four new companies will bring the total number of Relay NTP members to 39 in 2009. State Farm Insurance

2009 New Companies

2008 Returning Companies



Fun Quiz Answers

1. One serving (one cup) of raw, leafy vegetables equals:

b. 4 lettuce leaves

2. One serving (1 cup) of cereal flakes or ready-to-eat cereal looks like:

a. your fist

3. One serving (2-3 ounces) of cooked meat, fish, or poultry resembles:

b. a deck of cards

4. One serving (1.5 ounces) of natural cheese is the size of:

c. a pair of dice

5. One serving (1/2 cup) of cooked rice or pasta is equivalent to:

a. half of a baseball

For more information about healthy eating, visit the American Cancer Society at or call 1-800-ACS-2345.

2009 participating clubs, organizations, and associations
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
National Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees)
National Funeral Directors Association
Parrot Heads in Paradise, Inc.
Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias
Alegent Health
American Airlines
Bank of America
Best Buy
Booz Allen Hamilton
COUNTRY Financial
Delta Air Lines
Fred Meyer
HCA Healthcare
Lockheed Martin
Merrill Lynch
Nucor Steel
Quest Diagnostics
Sams Club
Starbucks Employees
United Community Banks
The Dow Chemical Company
Tastefully Simple
RFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _Renita
Pictured: Renita Wickes, cancer survivor, caretaker and Team Recruitment Chair, Relay For Life of Barstow
Dawn Ramsay to Serve on the American Cancer Society International Relay For Life Training and Advisory Team

 July/August Read more stories>>

 And the Award Goes To…

The National and California Relay For Life Awards Program annually recognizes Relay For Life events that excel in the areas of Mission Integration, Fundraising, Teams, Survivors and other key areas.

The California Division Relay Team has finalized the Awards Program for 2008.

Excellence in Mission Integration Awards require an application, while other awards are data based and do not require an application.

The Relay For Life of Paradise won the Excellence in Mission Integration Award in the "Promotion of What We Do Best" category last year. Here's a snippet of their entry form:

"The Relay For Life of Paradise was a baby Relay this past year. They exceeded all of their goals by leaps and bounds. The Mission Delivery Chair team, Ruth and John, made sure Mission Delivery was integrated into every aspect of the Relay. They successfully educated the public and the participants about the American Cancer Society through mission stage announcements and through the teams that took on mission messages and activities at their campsites. Education and awareness activities, which promoted research, advocacy, information, services, colon cancer, breast cancer, tobacco, skin cancer, nutrition, and physical activity, involved almost every individual that attend the event. Paradise was even successful with inviting Congressman Wally Herger, who made a special trip from Washington D.C. He attended the Relay Saturday evening and addressed the crowd at the opening of the Luminaria ceremony on the importance of getting involved to make a difference."




5 Tried and True Tips

1. Fundraising: A Perfect 10. Are you oh so close to reaching your goal but falling just $100 short? Email everyone in your email contact list and let them know you are just "this much" away from your goal and you just need $10 from 10 people by the 10th of the month! You’re sure to get the responses you need to put you over the top!

2. Team Recruitment: Get in touch with your youth. Did you know that we have two youth organizations in California that count themselves as our National non-Corporate teams? The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLS) might have chapters in your communities that would love the opportunity to participate in Relay. Visit the AYSO at and FCCLA at to find out more about these great organizations!

3. Survivor Recruitment: Remember to have HOPE. When recruiting survivors and caretakers, remember the HOPE Model.

4. Sharing the Mission: Take Action! Get an action alert from ACS CAN in your inbox? Well print it out and bring it to your committee meeting, team meeting or kick off and have everyone sign it right then and there and send it in to the appropriate lawmaker. It’s a great way to show everyone how easy it is to FIGHT BACK and introduce people to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Make sure to bring plenty of ACS CAN forms with you as well so people can sign the action alert and join ACS CAN all in one place!

5. Marketing Your Event: Send a press kit. A press kit is a great tool to send to local media. Press kits usually consist of a press release, media alert and background information about your event. See the California Division’s Community Based Marketing Media Samples on to see detailed instructions on how to build a basic press kit!

Do you have a few tried and true tips of your own? Send us your secrets to success by clicking here 


On a Personal Note

I have been involved with Relay For Life of Redding for the past six years and just finished my second year as the event chair. I started working on the committee with my immediate supervisor, who was the event chair that first year. She is a breast cancer survivor, and for many years she was my reason to Relay until that day I heard the same words she had heard eight years ago: You have cancer. Who would have guessed something like this could happen to invincible people like Relay Chairs who wear red shirts with emblems of hope on them? I actually told my doctor I didn't have time for cancer Like that was going to make it go away! 

Here is my new relay story:

I started spotting in December. I went to work and asked one of my co-workers if it was normal to spot after menopause. She said it had never happened to her and that I should call the doctor. It was time for my annual so I called and went in. We did a pap smear and the usual exam and talked about the spotting. My insurance goes into a goofy limbo in December so we have always avoided any major medical stuff around then. The doctor said we could wait and see if it happens again. 

Well, one month to the day it happened again just like a period. I let it pass and didn't go to the doctor. I was just too busy to stop and deal with it. In February it happened again. Twice. After the second time I woke up and took it seriously. I called my primary care doctor and she couldn't do an endometrial biopsy till March 13. This was February 26 so it seemed like a lifetime to wait. I was given the name of another doctor who could do it the next day. So off I went, on a Wednesday afternoon to get biopsied. 

On the following Monday morning March 3rd, I was sitting at my desk buried in work. The doctor called and started talking about the percentages of women that could be in the 1-2% range of having cancer. It hit me like a bolt of lightening that she was going to tell me I was in that percentile. Sure enough she said "You have cancer."  Wow!  She went on to refer me to a gynecologist/oncologist said treatment for my type of cancer is complete removal of the tubes, ovaries, cervix and uterus. If the cancer had spread beyond the uterus the next step was radiation. I took the rest of the day off and prepared myself. I had my husband meet me at home and I told him. 

Here is a little side story to catch you up:

My husband’s doctor had found a lump in his prostate and had sent him to a urologist.  The urologist did an exam and had found the lump as well. My husband’s biopsy was scheduled for April 2.  My surgery was scheduled for April 7. Thankfully, his biopsy went well and April 5 we packed up and went on our way to stay with my daughter and son in law over the weekend. My daughter and I spent Sunday shopping and getting our toes done. I reported into the hospital with my family and friends at 8:30 Monday morning.  Everyone was with me until I was wheeled away to the operating room. 

My family joined me in my recovery room just after I arrived. My husband and the kids stayed with me till I kicked them out later that evening. My husband was supposed to get his biopsy results that same day. Around 5 that evening he got the call.  He had cancer too!  

They scheduled him for a bone scan on Wednesday, which meant he had to get back home on Tuesday. 

I was in the hospital for 5 nights and 6 days. The ride home from the hospital was 150 miles and 3 hours long. I was sick most of the way and I really couldn’t wait for the car to stop moving. We made it to one of the rest areas and spent some time trying to settle my stomach. When we finally made it home, I was so happy to see my very own bed. 

The doctor called me and said the cancer was contained in the Uterus and had just started to invade the uterine wall, which put me at a stage 1B. I am now more than 12 weeks past my surgery, 4 weeks past our Relay (that I was able to participate in) and I am cancer free!

My husband began Brachytherapy over a month ago for his prostate cancer. The seeds have been implanted and he will soon begin five weeks of external radiation.

Along with many thoughts and prayers from my family and friends, the American Cancer Society provided the support and education to help me with decisions. I am now relying on those same programs that Relay For Life donations help fund to provide my husband the knowledge he needs to fight against cancer.


-Vickie Wilkinson
Event Chair, Relay For Life of Redding



Read More June Edition >>

Fundraising Resources To Get You Through the Summer


Looking for some new tools and ideas to help your teams with fundraising? Well you are in luck! We have a few new tools and ideas for you to use, including the Fundraiser Tracker, creative ideas to raise $100 and a link to online fundraising forums:

    Fundraising Forums on Check out the Fundraising Forum and Tell Us How-To Do This Fundraiser Forum on On the Fundraising Forum, participants can find fundraising topics ranging from ideas on how to execute a specific fundraiser to alternative ways to of making an old fundraiser fresh and new. In the Tell Us How-To-Do This Fundraiser Forum, participants share their fundraising idea and provide a step-by-step account of how to execute that fundraiser. Posts have been converted into PDFs so that they can be easily downloaded and printed. You must be logged into in order to participate in forum discussions.  Creative Ideas to Raise $100 Have all your team members raised a $100 yet to receive their 2008 American Cancer Society Relay For Life Commemorative t-shirt? If not, it’s not too late! We have compiled a list of simple ways to quickly and easily raise $100.
    Team Fundraiser Tracker. Team Captains use the Team Fundraiser Tracker to help keep track of their team fundraising efforts throughout the season. It is designed to be implemented at the first Team Captain’s meeting but can be used anytime. It is then reviewed at each team captain meeting. The Tracker helps Team Captains keep track of what their team did last year, set goals for this year and track its progress towards that goal. It’s also an easy way for Team Captains to let their Team Captain Coordinator know if they need some help with fundraising ideas or if they are going to blow past their original goal and will need to set a higher one!

ACS CAN Update

1. Fundraising: At the carwash! Read more…

2. Team Recruitment: Use Your Space. Read more…

3. Survivor Recruitment: How many survivors do you work with? Read more…

4. Sharing the Mission: Let them eat salad! Read more…

5. Marketing Your Event: Checkout Relay. Read more…

1. Fundraising: At the carwash! Want a fun new way to raise money and awareness with a carwash with out getting your hands wet? The Relay For Life of Cerritos has partnered with their local Nissan dealership to use their automated carwash for several Sundays leading up to their event to help youth teams raise money and awareness. Youth teams are given carwash vouchers to help solicit donations for their team. The team that collects the most donations from the carwashes wins a prize and recognition at Relay. Additionally, during the carwash Sundays, the youth teams thank the donors and provide Mission messages and more information on how they can get involved in the Relay For Life!

2. Team Recruitment: Use Your Space. If you are a member of a social networking web site like or, post a message to challenge all your friends to start a team and compete with you to raise funds for Relay For Life.

3. Survivor Recruitment: How many survivors do you work with? If you have an employee newsletter, see if you can submit a short article summarizing why you Relay and inviting readers who are cancer survivors to come out and walk the survivor lap at your event and of course invite non-survivors to come out and support their co-worker as a team building activity!

4. Sharing the Mission: Let them eat salad! Ask each of the attendees of your next committee meeting to bring their favorite healthy salad ingredient (such as almonds, carrots or cucumbers). Combine everything at the meeting and talk about the Society’s nutrition guidelines while serving up the masterpiece!

5. Marketing Your Event: Checkout Relay. Ever pay attention to the checkout screen when you’re buying your groceries? Relay For Life of Sonoma noticed one local grocery chain has ad space on their checkout screens. They successfully negotiated to have Relay ads displayed on all the store’s checkout screens in the weeks leading up to their event! 

On a Personal Note

RFL_RelayCoolStuff_6.08 _image_2
LaVerna and daughters LaDonna, Rohnda and granddaughter Tabitha (l-r) walk the
track at Relay For Life of Torrance

My name is LaVerna Edmonds and I am a five-year Cancer Survivor.

Right after Thanksgiving 2002, I discovered a lump in my right breast. I thought, ‘this can’t be, I had a mammogram in September, and everything was fine!’

I had not been in the routine of giving myself breast exams (I am now), but I felt that something was wrong. I did not say anything to my family. I wanted to wait until after the Holidays, and then I would go to the doctor. I was sure it was nothing, that everything was fine.

I made my doctor’s appointment in mid January. After the exam, my doctor immediately sent me to get a mammogram and a biopsy. I found out a week later that it was cancerous (oh those dreaded words!).

Everything seemed to go into high gear after that. My husband and I met with a surgeon and I was scheduled for a lumpectomy within two weeks. I also had to go to my doctor for a routine prior to my surgery. The doctor told me I also had a form of Leukemia. We called it our double whammy!

The leukemia is not curable, but the good news is, it is treatable! One of my doctors said it is something I will die with, not from. I’m grateful to the American Cancer Society for all the research that is being done!

My surgery to remove the lump and four lymph nodes went well the results were good.

A week after my surgery, we met with an oncologist to discuss my treatment. I was scheduled for six weeks of radiation. The oncologist also started me on medication for the Leukemia.

I will have an oncologist for the rest of my life. At first, I had blood tests and saw my doctor every two weeks; then it was once a month; every two months; and today I only have to go once every three months!

In February of this year, I was able to stop taking Femara (a drug that stops all estrogen…and we did not get a long). That was a very happy day when I took the last pill!!! (smile)

If you had asked me to talk about my cancer five years ago, I would have been very hesitant. I did not even talk about it with my friends. But I got involved in our local Relay For Life that same year, and found out that I could help other people by being open about my experience with cancer.

Now I am a Relay For Lifer!

-LaVerna Edmonds, survivor chair
Relay For Life of Torrance






Read More May Edition >>


Paint Our Town Purple 2008

Relay For Life of Los Alamitos/Seal Beach Community Marketing Chair Laura Herzog submitted several photos showing off the event’s many Paint Our Town Purple activities. A press conference, collaboration between law enforcement, fire department public works, city government and more contributed to purple, purple everywhere in the communities of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Rossmoor!

The Los Alamitos Unified School District Superintendent School Board voted unanimously to issue a district resolution recognizing May 1st as "Paint the District Purple" day. They also have formed a district team!

Los Alamitos Unified School District staff enjoy Paint the District Purple in the staff lounge. District staff wore purple and decorated the office, lounge and trees with purple to show their support. They even enjoyed purple cupcakes!

Brigadier General James P. Combs the Commander of the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos spoke at a press conference. He shared that everyone has been affected by cancer and that everyone must fight the war on cancer together.

Seal Beach Police Chief Jeffery Kirkpatrick pictured with a police office and three-time cancer survivor and Cops For A Cure team captain Linda McDonald and Officer Tony Rond. Cops For a Cure raised almost $16K last year for Relay For Life and plan to raise more this year. Chief Kirkpatrick challenged all police chiefs to get involved in their community’s Relay!

Orange County Fire Authority truck and Seal Beach Police car were decorated for a live news spot!

How’d They Do That?

Last year, Relay For Life of Hawthorne set a goal of raising $24,000. They were successful in raising $22,000.

This year, their goal was the same, but they raised a whopping $48,000 that’s double their goal! What changed?

According to event Co-Chair Marisela Nunez-Reynoso and staff partner Katie Holmes, it all came down to modifying three things: meeting venue, strategy and networking.

Meeting Venue:




Getting Participants to Visit Your Fight Back Tent

When planning for your Fight Back ceremony, the number one goal should be to get as many people as possible to pledge to Fight Back by visiting the Fight Back Tent.

Here are a few ideas to get people to the tent during your event:

    If your event offers Spirit Points to teams, offer points for team members who visit the Fight Back Tent. Ensure there are people who are able to speak about ways to Fight Back so they can give ideas to anyone who walks in and asks how they can help.Every time someone makes a pledge ring a cowbell (or other noise maker) to get people’s attention! Make people hear you!As people sign pledge cards, hang them around the tent or on the fence of the track if visible as a visual reminder that everyone needs to Fight Back.From the main stage during a busy time of day, have a Fight Back Ceremony Preview or Sneak Peak to ensure participation at the tent and at the ceremony.Have a "barker" at the Fight Back tent to urge participants walking by to stop and pledge to Fight Back! They could use a karaoke machine to make their voice heard and once the participant has made their pledge, they can say it into the microphone to gather more interest.Set up a Fight Back Detour. Place your Fight Back Tent right beside the track, directly on the track or even over the track. The detour could be a permanent feature during the entire event or something temporary during specific times throughout the day where the track is blocked off and people are required to go through the detour. The only way a participant can pass the detour is if they are wearing an I Pledge to Fight Back sticker.


ACS CAN Update

The Fight Back Express bus is gonna roll! It’s coming to California in late August and early September and we are very excited!

The Fight Back Express Bus will travel coast to coast collecting stories and messages to lawmakers, giving our loud purple voice a vehicle to impact life saving legislation! The bus will be covered in removable panels that Relayers, caregivers and survivors will sign with a message to their elected officials. The messages will celebrate survivors, remember those we've lost and very clearly show how we volunteers are fighting back through advocacy!

The Fight Back Express Bus will end it's journey in Washington DC for the election in November along with millions of signatures carrying the voices of millions of cancer fighters. Whoever wins the presidential race will see for his or herself that America cares about fighting back against cancer!

For more information on the Fight Back Express Bus, visit

Lori Bremner, lead ambassador
California Division

5 Tried and True Tips

1. Fundraising: It’s date night! Patti Fisk, a volunteer in the High Plains Division shared an idea in which members of one of their teams asked a local day care center if they could partner to provide a "Date Night" for parents. The team members charged $20 per child for four hours and made more than $800 in one night! This could be adopted by school groups, church groups or anyone crazy enough to want to spend the evening with a bunch of kids!

2. Team Recruitment: Get outside your comfort zone! Many of us stick to our comfort zones when it comes to team recruitment, asking friends, family and the businesses and organizations we patronize on a regular basis. It makes sense since we do what we know will have the greatest impact and greatest likelihood of getting a commitment to Fight Back! But challenge your committee and volunteers to make at least one ask that is outside their comfort zone! This is a great way to get more teams and build the diversity of your event.

3. Survivor Recruitment: If they’re looking for support, they might be looking for you. Search online for local cancer support groups that might be interested in participating in Relay. Many of these types of groups have websites or on-line contact info so you an email information about your event or possibly speak or distribute information at one of their meetings.

4. Sharing the Mission: Invite a guest speaker. Work with your staff partner to secure a program volunteer speaker or Health Programs Manager at your committee meeting. For example, invite a Road to Recovery driver, Look Good… Feel Better volunteer or a wig fitter from your local ACS office to share their experience working with patients.

5. Marketing Your Event: Every parade needs a little purple! Local parades are a great way to build awareness about your event. When you enter a Relay float into a parade, make sure you have business cards and flyers as well as plenty of giveaways.

Do you have a few tried and true tips of your own? Send us your secrets to success by clicking here.


On a Personal Note

Tricia with her daughter, Shae, after her first triathlon last October

I can still remember the day when I first felt the lump in my neck. I was driving my car, enjoying the radio. I don’t know why, but I reached up and felt my neck.

Maybe I thought I was getting a hint of a sore throat from a cold or from all my bad singing! Regardless, I’m lucky to have had that moment when I reached to my neck and felt a lump on the right side.

I would stretch out my neck for everyone to see and ask, "does this look unusual to you?" Well, it was my mother, of course, who told me I should go to the doctor and have it looked at right away.

My doctor told me that my blood tests were fine and we should just wait and see if it would get any bigger! I didn’t like that idea, so I changed doctors, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I could make. My new doctor immediately scheduled me for a biopsy.

I was at my mom’s house when the call came. I picked up the phone and the doctor said "You have cancer." I was 23 years old.

I took the news rather well, at first. I actually didn’t cry until my mom did then, I was right there with her!

Within a few weeks I was diagnosed with Papillary Carcinoma thyroid cancer and I underwent a full thryoidectomy. I am thankful I was young: I went in for surgery at 7 a.m. and was out the next day by noon!

The surgery went well, but as time passed it became apparent that my parathyroid glands would never recover. I started thyroid medication along with prescription Vitamin D and lots of calcium due to the hypoparathyroidism caused by the parathyroid glands not working.

I went in for nuclear medicine where I took a radioactive isotope. It wasn’t painful, I simply had to stay confined to the hospital room for a few days until I was no longer radioactive!

I went back to work within two weeks of my treatment and finished college. I felt a little sluggish for a while, but over time the doctor and I found the right balance of medications.

It didn’t take long for me to get back to enjoying life. I got married when I was 26 and by 30 I had a beautiful daughter named Shae. It was shortly after she was born that I first learned about Relay For Life. I had always wanted to volunteer, but couldn’t find that right fit. But after my first rally, I was hooked! That year I walked my first survivor lap and received my first purple survivor shirt. I loved the event, the people and how much fun it was. I was excited to be able to help raise awareness and funds to fight cancer.

Approximately two years later, my husband and I welcomed our son, Sean, into the world. Things couldn’t have been better. I had a great family and job and was busy on the planning committee for Relay For Life of Mission Viejo.

Three months after my son was born I went in for my follow-up three-month exam. The test results came back abnormal. With every test, it got worse. Again, I heard the words "you have cancer."

My mind wandered a lot and I couldn’t help but imagine the worst. Fortunately, we caught it early. I had carcinoma in situ. I had outpatient surgery and many months of follow-up exams, but no recurrences. And thankfully no loss of any more body parts!

At that same time I realized all my medications were not working as they had before. I plunged into hypothyroidism and hypoparathyroidism. Through all this I still had my Relay Team, Team Endurance. I walked my survivor lap and even carried my son for a few laps in the baby bjorn. I couldn’t imagine missing a Relay!

It took a couple of years to get my system back in sync. I still have to adjust my medications more frequently than before, but that really doesn’t matter as long as I feel good.

One thing I have learned after having cancer is that a lot of people have health problems and they don’t let it slow them down. I try not to let having had cancer stop me. I try to do all the things I would have done had I never had a surgery or had to take a pill. Over the last five years I have never given up and continually work hard to feel as good as I can. A few years ago, I started running again. Last year, I joined the triathlon club at the YMCA and completed my first triathlon and half marathon! I want my children to know that anything is possible if you try hard enough!

Having cancer makes you want to do more and give back more. I know I have enjoyed volunteering on the planning committee for our Relay and reaching new milestones with our event, whether it is more teams, raising awareness or raising more money each year. I also appreciate the amazing people involved in Relay. They have incredible passion and dedication to fighting cancer.

I try to always remind myself that I am lucky. Yes, I am a cancer survivor. Yes, I am strong! Yes, I beat this disease. Yes, I am fighting to help support the American Cancer Society’s mission to someday eliminate cancer!


- Tricia Scott, Team Captain Coordinator
Relay For Life of Mission Viejo




Read More April Edition >>


Paint Our Town Purple Coming Soon!

What can you do to Paint Your Town Purple?

Paint Our Town Purple is a great way to bring awareness to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. In many cases, teams join together to paint their town purple or ask businesses to get involved by decorating their windows to show their support. Others have decorated the city hall, library, schools, community centers, police and fire stations.

So how do you get started? First, ask your teams to host a section of your town or to take on a strip mall and go wild with purple. This is a great way to make the best use of volunteer-power and not wear out committee members. One creative volunteer passed around a purple paint can at a team captain meeting and asked for a dollar donation while she talked about Paint Our Town Purple. She also asked them to sign up for a section of town and share how they were planning to go purple on May 1. They raised $86 that night which purchased all of their purple decorations.

Decoration items like purple ribbons, balloons, window paint, lawn signs, streamers, sidewalk chalk, purple Halloween lights etc., can be found on clearance, at dollar/discount stores, or vendors like Oriental Trading Company. Take a peek into your Christmas or craft inventory, you might be surprised how much purple you already have! Don't forget about your RFL posters and banners.

Other creative ideas have been to ask a local art class or studio to create purple masterpieces that can be hung at a town square or downtown. Many Starbucks have already agreed to make purple whipped cream for their tasty hot and cold beverages have you asked your local National Corporate Team Partner ?

Local city officials will be declaring proclamations for Paint Our Town Purple day on May 1 (see a template at and you can be sure many volunteers will be asking their neighbors, friends and family to wear purple for the day and to decorate their cars and homes. I bet some of us have even seen a face painted purple or purple hair out there bringing awareness to Relay For Life.

Your Call to Action: Paint Your Town Purple on May 1 and have fun!


Did you have a successful Paint Our Town Purple last year? Share the ideas that worked and even those that didn’t here!



Where’s Relay?

As a Relayer who lives and breathes purple, it’s easy to forget there are thousands of people who haven’t been exposed to the Relay For Life event in their communities yet!

We often take for granted that everyone knows where to go for their local Relay; but "everyone" is often only our team captains. Some team members may be out of towners. Furthermore, if we only think about our immediate teams, we miss an opportunity to recruit new ones, which may walk in day of the event to check out this purple "Relay thing!"

Survivors are also the VIP’s so you want to make sure you clearly mark the path for them. It can be frustrating to get lost. Consider how many survivors might never make it to your event because they can’t find your location?

Properly branding and utilizing signage at your event will help the community "discover" that Relay is happening. Signage will get Relay participants excited as they approach the site and will lead the way to the greatest event in town that fights cancer!

What signage do you need? When should it go up? Prior to your event you can Paint the Town Purple and have the whole town covered with purple balloons, ribbons, signs etc. This will be a great pre-sell that the event is coming!

The day of event you can line the street leading up to the venue with banners, signs, balloons, ribbons etc. to lead the way to Relay. At the site, of course, use your Mission Delivery facts signs around the track.

Who does the signage? One person? NEVER!

Don’t rely on the logistics committee to put signs up in the town as they will be occupied with other tasks for the day. Get a separate committee together to assist with putting up day-of-event signs try getting your youth involved as they love to help and probably can use the hours for Community Service, which looks good on their High School resume. Most importantly don’t let signage fall to the bottom of the priority list on set-up day.

Signage is important and we have it available to support you. Banners etc. are shared between events so everyone has access to supplies and we have plenty on hand for multiple events on the same weekend. Work with your staff partner to plan out what you think you need in advance so you are ready to go!

Trying to find a Relay tucked away can be frustrating for your participants and especially for your survivors. Avoid making your participants play a game of Where’s Waldo by using signage to help guide their way to Relay!  


All News Episodes: Track Chats!

Going on vacation? Is it date night? Do you have a meeting or sporting event to attend?

You’ve got Grey’s Anatomy Podcasts and you’d never dream of not recording your favorite shows. Well now you’ll never miss our brand new season of Track Chats either, because we’re recording them for you!

That’s right, we have all-new commercial-free Track Chat "episodes" to take you through the Relay season, presented by your very own American Cancer Society volunteers. So enjoy date night or cheer on your favorite athlete, because now you’ll have the convenience of listening to any of these great Podcasts on your own time. And just like any Podcast, once they’re recorded you can download and listen to them again and again. You might even listen to one together at a committee meeting or team meeting. Your date might even like to listen to one with you. Can you say potential volunteer?

Okay, so maybe not with your date, but whenever and with whomever you decide to listen, each episode will contain great information and ideas to help you learn ways to have a successful event. Plus, you’ll have updates throughout the year to keep you informed about the latest American Cancer Society news.

How cool is this new, informative, fun and oh so convenient Relay tool? This is just one more way to bring the latest and greatest information to you, because we value you and your precious time as an American Cancer Society volunteer!

Current Track Chat topics include:

    Team RecruitmentSponsorship OpportunitiesNational TeamsRelay Data FlowCeremonies Do’s and Don’tsFight Back! Year Round

And there’s more to come, so visit this link to get started!   


5 Tried and True Tips


1. Fundraising: Play Ball! Are your event participants sports fans? Have them pledge a quarter for every point their team wins in their next game and donate that amount to Relay For Life!

2. Team Recruitment: Team Challenge! Challenge each of your teams to recruit two additional teams to join your event. If you start off with five teams and they are all successful, you should have 15 teams by the end of the challenge!

3. Survivor Recruitment: It’s Tea Time! Host a creative pre-Relay survivor event, such as a tea party or ice cream social so you have the opportunity to share information about the Society’s free programs and services as well as what to expect at Relay.

4. Sharing the Mission: Workshop with a Mission! Host Mission Workshops at your team captain meetings to generate enthusiasm for Mission Delivery themes at Relay!

5. Marketing Your Event: YouTube, RFL Style! Include a link to the Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back! video on in your email signature and encourage your committee members and teams to do the same.

Do you have a few tried and true tips of your own? Send us your secrets to success by clicking here.


On a Personal Note

It was the Fourth of July when I first met Magda and Carlos Loredo. Magda opened her home and her heart to me that very first day and Carlos was doing what he did best: standing at the grill wearing sunglasses and a smile as he burned every piece of meat that was in the refrigerator.

Exactly one year later when I married their son, they became my in-laws and over time they truly became a part of my own family. In April of 1995 they became grandparents to our wonderful daughter.

Carlos was an amazing man. He had faced death more than once in his life, so in 1996 when the doctor told him, "You have cancer," we all knew it was just another battle to be won.

The entire family was there on the day of his surgery. The news was good they had found one small tumor and removed it along with two-thirds of his stomach. He had to adjust his eating habits, but he did not need chemo or radiation. It seemed simple enough and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Then one year later we heard the same doctor say the same words, "You have cancer." This time, he said it to Magda. Magda was a strong woman. She had been in the hospital only three times in her life, each time to give birth to one of her three sons. She too had been diagnosed with stomach cancer so we assumed it would be as simple as Carlos’ case. But that assumption was mistake.

That week we made the first call to the American Cancer Society. We seemed to have hundreds of questions and the volunteers found the answers, helping our family and friends. We learned that cancers starting in different sections of the stomach cause different symptoms and tend to have different outcomes. Her outcome was definitely different from Carlos’ and we had turned onto an entirely new road.

When Magda began her treatments, there were ups and downs, good days and bad ones but eventually she started feeling better. The sigh of relief didn’t come as quickly as it did with Dad, but it came.

When they were both feeling better, the doctor gave them a thumbs up to travel. That was all they needed to jump on a plane; we had a hard time keeping track of them while they visited family in Texas and Mexico. They came home monthly to check in with the doctor, do laundry and pay bills. We’d have a huge party and then they were off again to walk hand in hand on a beach in Hawaii.

During Magda’s second round of treatment, we decided to all go on vacation together to celebrate the holidays. We rented two condos, packed up three cars and all 14 of us took off. We laughed, we cried, we walked, we talked… but mostly we spent time together.

I wish I could say "and they lived happily ever after" but that is not how this story ends. After returning from vacation, Magda’s blood cell count was too low to continue her treatments. Her health took a downturn and she died peacefully at home in March of 1999.

It was a tough week but we joined together as family and friends and got through it. At the end of the week Dad sat us all down for a talk. He started by telling us how much we were appreciated and how much we were loved. Then, time seemed to stop when he shared the news that his cancer had returned and it was his turn to start his own treatments.

The next five months felt like déjà vu but this fight was bit harder because the decisions fell on new shoulders. Again, the American Cancer Society was there to help support our family and friends. Dad fought a hard fight but it was a battle he could not win and he was laid to rest with his wife in August that same year.

It was difficult and sad, but as time passed we did things to heal. We took flowers to cemetery; we looked through photos and told lots of stories. Then two years ago, when my daughter was in fifth grade, after she wrote a story for a class assignment, I realized we needed more healing and that is when I found Relay For Life.

We invited friends to join us for our first Relay. We laughed, we cried, we froze and in the morning and we were inspired to do more. Being a part of bringing our community together is important to me, so when I was asked to be the Event Chair this year I was excited about the opportunity.

Why do I Relay? Read my daughter, Amelia Rose Loredo’s story and it is easy to see why I am here to FIGHT BACK against this terrible disease. I Relay so that I can do my part in making her wish come true…

My Greatest Wish by Amelia Rose Loredo

My greatest wish is for no one to die of cancer. If no one died of cancer then my grandparents would still be alive. When I was four years old, my grandparents, Carlos and Magda Loredo, died of stomach cancer. It was amazing that they had the same kind of cancer and died five months apart.

It makes me feel sad that I can barely remember them. I do remember my grandmother saying, "Oh, my muñeco," calling me a little doll, and that sometimes she would rub smooth stones on my forehead when I was sick.

I don’t remember my grandfather, but my mom told me that he would whistle the song "La Raspa" and I would start to dance. I was born on my grandfather’s birthday and we got to celebrate four birthdays together.

When people die it is always sad. My dad was the person who was the saddest, I felt so sorry for him. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if my parents died of cancer.

Cancer is a terrible disease that can harm anyone from young children to older people. There are many types of cancer and most cannot be cured.

This is my wish, for no one to die of cancer so that everyone can live a long time and that my grandparents could have seen me grow, live and learn.

Kary Loredo-Welch
Chair, Relay For Life of Hayward

For more about stomach cancer, click here.



Read More March Edition >>



On a Personal Note

Harry and Chris Lescano from Relay For Life of Dixon celebrate life, survivorship and the power of caregivers.


“When I arrived at the hospital, Harry was already coming out of the doctor’s office. As he approached me in the hallway, I could see on his face it was not as simple as the doctor had previously thought. I asked him what the doctor had told him and he said, ‘Let’s go to the car.’ When we reached the parking lot, Harry held me close as he told me the results had come back from the biopsy. He had heard those three dreaded words: ‘You have cancer.’”




I’d like to begin by saying, I am a very blessed woman! Many family members and friends have told me that I have lived a charmed life and I certainly agree.


At the young age of 16, I met and fell in love with the most wonderful man in the world. We were married two months after my high school graduation and I can honestly say, we were truly each other’s soul mates!


March 1998 my husband, Harry came home from work and asked what I thought about a large lump he had discovered under his right arm. The lump had been there for a while but he didn’t think too much about it, attributing it to a strained muscle.


We made an appointment with his doctor to have it checked out. He had a biopsy and the doctor said it was probably nothing to be alarmed about so Harry went back to work. That week the doctor called and said he wanted to meet with us as soon as possible.  I was supposed to meet him at the doctor’s office, but got held up at work.


When I arrived at the hospital, Harry was already coming out of the doctor’s office. As he approached me in the hallway, I could see on his face it was not as simple as the doctor had previously thought. I asked him what the doctor had told him and he said, “Let’s go to the car.” When we reached the parking lot, Harry held me close as he told me the results had come back from the biopsy.


He had heard those three dreaded words: “You have cancer.”


We sat in the car holding each other tightly and crying, not knowing what was ahead for us. We drove home and the silence was deafening. Neither of us could speak. We stood in the middle of the family room praying together that God would intercede again on our behalf and help us to make it through whatever we were facing.


After numerous tests and doctor’s visits it was determined Harry had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma B-cell. He was to undergo a localized radiation treatment that, if successful, would put him in remission.


Over the next five years we made routine visits to his oncologist preceded by blood tests and CT Scans to ensure everything was going well. On one such visit however, Harry informed his doctor he had noticed a couple of lumps on the side of his neck and we wanted them checked out. The doctor informed us his lymphoma had returned and it had now spread to different areas throughout his body. We were informed that this particular type of cancer is very slow growing and there was no treatment until the final stages. We asked for a second opinion and the answer was the same.


We were now on a road very unfamiliar and frightening to us but even more determined to stay strong for each other and our children and to never give up hope! So, that’s what we did! We returned to our family and our jobs and focused on celebrating everything in our lives.


Just a little side bar here you’ll notice throughout our story I reference “We” and “Our.” The cancer taking over my husband’s body was also consuming me!


February 15, 2005 we were getting ready for bed when Harry told me something was wrong and thought we should go to the hospital. His heart was beating so fast and hard I could see it pulsating in his chest. The emergency room doctor told us he had suffered another mild heart attack. They stabilized and observed him over night and then sent us back home. We didn’t know it then, but the lymphoma had now taken over his body.


For the next seven months we became an integral part of the oncology ward family. With the endless lab tests, doctor visits, chemo treatments and hospital stays, we knew all the doctors, nurses and aids by name. It was becoming increasingly clear that I had chosen the wrong profession in life. I should have gone into the medical field!


We were taught how to flush Harry’s IV’s; to change, clean and dress his wounds from the staff infection he got from one of his hospital stays and to give Nupregen injections to keep his white blood cell count up in between the treatments.


It was the desire of my heart to make every moment meaningful and special for Harry. We weren’t giving up. He was going to beat this THING! I was always coming up with silly, light hearted ideas to bring into the hospital to keep our spirits up.


We were celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary and were the honored guests at the “Club Med” (aka Kaiser Hospital). We had the best room in the resort, overlooking the ocean, fine dining and people waiting on us 24/7! I had purchased a lovely bear with a big vibrant red hat that sang “Lovers and Friends.” Following our candlelit dinner, we donned Harry’s robe and slippers and proceeded to take a moonlit stroll (down the hall in front of the nurse’s station and back again). I strapped the bear (I lovingly named “Hope) to the IV unit that accompanied us where ever we went. Pushing the button on Hope’s left paw, she began to sing as we “danced” and reminisced about our life together and the things we were going to do once the treatments were finished. Passing the nurse’s station again people were applauding, singing and smiling as we reluctantly returned to our ocean view suite and settled in for the evening.


I didn’t think of myself as a caregiver at the time because the doctors, nurses, and aides were performing the medical care. But the daily responsibility of overseeing all aspects of Harry’s care, communicating with his doctors and making the decisions became part of my life. After some time, nurses began to call me a caregiver. Was I?


Harry and I were in this fight together! We faced many challenges each day. Let’s face it, I never planned on being a caregiver. It’s a job that sort of plopped itself in my lap one day when I least expected it. I was unprepared, untrained and overwhelmed. Our lives were turned upside down and we had to learn quickly and act. It was perhaps one of the fastest on the job training sessions I have ever had.


Yet, in actuality, Harry and I were both caregivers to each other. In my eyes, he was the strong, patient and trusting one depending 100% on me the weak, emotional yet determined wife who never wanted to let him go! Being his caregiver; that was the easy part! I was just loving him and wanting him to know beyond a shadow of doubt how much he meant to me.


When asked if I would consider telling my story at my local Relay U on the subject of being a caregiver, the first question that came to mind was: “How do you define a caregiver?” What answer can one give to that simple statement? I checked my dictionary to find the definition. It is not listed in the dictionary. It seems to be a widely used word that has become part of our vocabulary, although the dictionary does not define it. The best I could find was the definition of care: being an object or source of worry, and caution in avoiding harm or danger, and protection with supervision.” That is a good place to start.


"There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers."


A caregiver gives of oneself to assure that the person in need receives the necessary care to carry on his or her life safely and with dignity.


A caregiver sees to it that the basic needs of food, clothing, cleanliness and shelter are met by the person with need.


A caregiver never loses sight of his/her own needs and understands that in order to care for a loved one, you must also care for yourself.

Last summer my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Our family re-lived the pain and helplessness that this dreaded disease causes! Surrounded by a family filled with love and admiration, we lost my dad within a few short weeks of his diagnosis. I have come to believe in a team concept of caregiving. With each family member giving what they can, one central caregiver does not own the title.


I feel that anyone that provides nurture, comfort and support on a personal basis is a caregiver.


Unconditional love … this is what being a caregiver is!


If you know a caregiver; call them today and offer to help in one specific way. If you are a caregiver,  please take the time to be good to yourself.


I am truly blessed and humbled to have been given the opportunity to care for the two most important men in my life!


Chris Lescano

Survivor Chair

Relay For Life of Dixon




Paint Our Town Purple


Relay Manager Adriana Caldera hits the road for Paint Our Town Purple.

How did two women manage to sign up two new teams, get tons of goodies donated to their event, find an armful of new leads and convince multiple high-traffic businesses to display Relay information all in less than one day?

Paint Our Town Purple of course!


Carla Kearin, mission delivery chair of the Relay For Life of Milpitas and her staff partner, Relay Manager Adriana Caldera didn’t have a lot of time or resources to dedicate to Paint Our Town Purple, but they wanted to make a big splash anyway!


Armed with purple backpacks loaded with Relay brochures, posters, flyers, team captain kits, sponsorship packets, purple streamers and more, the dynamic duo donned purple everything then jumped on their purple bikes with purple flags to embark on a cross-town purple mission.


“A lot of businesses let us put up posters and flyers,” said Adriana. “Some people look at you skeptically, but they see you riding around on a bike wearing a purple wig and they know you’re definitely very passionate about your cause!”


Adriana and Carla got one team to sign up from a local health club and another from a local smoothie bar which not only brought their team, but donated t-shirts to give away and sold smoothies at Relay with proceeds benefiting the event!


Carla also worked with a local beauty salon to set up an information table and decorate the windows and interior with purple balloons and streamers it turned out to be a great place to hand out survivor information. The salon donated gift baskets to the event filled with beauty supplies and gift certificates for haircuts, manicures and pedicures!


 “I think it’s a great way to be able to get out into your community and get that message out,” said Adriana. “We were only two people and we were able to cover so much ground. A lot of Relays are concerned about not having man power, but if you use your resources wisely you can have a huge impact.”


Did you have a successful Paint Our Town Purple last year? Share the ideas that worked and even those that didn’t here!



Fun Quiz

It’s important to make healthy choices when you go out to eat up to a third of all cancer deaths could be avoided by observing healthy lifestyle habits, including eating a healthful diet. A poll conducted by the Field Research Corporation showed 68 percent of Californians could not answer one of the four questions listed below about the comparative nutritional value of restaurant foods. Take the quiz to see how you do!


1. Which of the following breakfast items that are served at Denny’s do you think has the fewest calories?

a. Ham and Cheddar Omelet

b. Country Fried Steak and Eggs

c. Three Slices of French Toast with Syrup and Margarine

d. Three Pancakes with Syrup and Margarine


2. Which of the following items that are served at Chili’s do you think has the least salt?

a. Cajun Chicken Sandwich

b. Classic Combo Steak & Chicken Fajitas

c. Guiltless Chicken Platter

d. Smoked Turkey Sandwich


3. Which of the following items that are served at Romano’s Macaroni Grill do you think has the most fat?

a. Traditional Lasagna

b. Chicken Caesar Salad

c. Pasta Classico with Sausage and Peppers

d. BBQ Chicken Pizza


4. Which of the following items that are served at McDonald’s do you think has the most calories?

a. Two Big Macs

b. Two Egg McMuffins

c. One Large Chocolate Shake

d. Four Regular Hamburgers




1. (B) Country Fried Steak and Eggs (464 calories)

2. (A) Cajun Chicken Sandwich (2,220 mg sodium)

3. (B) Chicken Caesar Salad (69 g fat)

4. (C) One Large Chocolate Shake (1,160 calories).




Read More February Edition >>

On a Personal Note

Sarita and Alicia
Alica Bass, Relay For Life of Napa Valley and her daughter Sarita after Sarita’s thyroidectomy in October, 2006.

Sarita and Mike at Napa 07
Sarita and her boyfriend Mike at the Relay For Life of Napa Valley, July 2007.

Serita Mike and Eddie
Sarita, her father Eddie and her boyfriend Mike the day after Relay For Life of Napa Valley, July 2007.

In 2006, while living in Zionsville, Indiana, I got my real estate office involved in Relay For Life. In our small office of just 27 agents and staff, we had three co-workers battling cancer.

I walked in honor of my dad, a prostate cancer survivor of four years; my co-workers fighting the disease; and in memory of my father-in-law and grandfather who lost their battles with cancer.

Six weeks before my Relay event, my daughter Sarita called me in a panic about a nodule discovered during her yearly physical examination. Her doctor advised her to schedule a consultation with an endocrinologist.

Sarita, 24, was living in San Francisco, had just graduated in May ’05 from San Francisco State University, and was enjoying a new chapter in her life and a new career in marketing. She lived a clean lifestyle. We were a family of non-smokers; she ate healthy, exercised often. I was convinced it was nothing but a nodule, and was busy building my Relay Team. I assured her she was fine.

We were a family of heart disease, not cancer.

Our Relay event at the end of June ‘06 was a huge success for a village of just 6,000 people! We raised over $90,000 including close to $4,000 from my team alone! The event touched me in a way I had never imagined it would. Witnessing first-hand the personal courage and battles of so many fighting cancer, and the tragic loss of so many, inspired me to stay committed to finding a cure by continuing my support for Relay For Life.

Sarita’s consultation with the endocrinologist was in early July. My husband and I were not able to attend the appointment with her since we were in the process of selling our home in Zionsville, and packing for our relocation to the Bay Area in mid-August.

She phoned immediately after her appointment to tell us the endocrinologist recommended an ultrasound. "This is routine," I said. "Don’t worry Sarita, you do not have cancer."

I continued to be positive and assure her she was fine. When the ultrasound results came back, the endocrinologist recommended a biopsy. I was shocked. "Really," I thought. "A biopsy? Sarita, I am certain he is being very thorough and overly cautious with your diagnosis. Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine, I promise."

I felt helpless being so far away from her, but I was more worried about the discomfort of the biopsy, never really believing she could have cancer. As we waited for the results, she was fearful and convinced she had cancer.

I don’t know if it was denial, positive thinking or what, but I continued to tell her this was just a precaution, she would come out of this fine. Then she called, sounding angry and frustrated. The results were inconclusive. They’d have to perform another biopsy.

The second biopsy was performed and the results would be available the following day. I felt relief that we would soon be able to put this behind us.

August 15, 2006 is a day in my life that I will never forget.

It was the final day of loading the moving trucks in preparation for our cross-country move the next morning. We were just being served dessert and saying our goodbyes with a small group of family and close friends when my cell phone rang. It was Sarita. She was hysterical.

"Mom, I have cancer. Oh my God, Mom, I have cancer."

I began to sob in disbelief. I called for my husband and we both listened to her and cried. We were so scared for her and still so far away.

The next three and a half days would be the longest of my life.

Sarita’s thyroidectomy was performed on October 28, 2006 at UCSF. The surgeon said the cancer was contained to the small nodule. What a blessing! A wave of relief rushed through my body. I knew she would be ok.

Following radioactive iodine treatment that removed any remaining thyroid cells through her body, Sarita spent her six-week recovery with my husband and me us in Napa. We felt so blessed to be able to be there for her and help her recover from this terrifying experience.

The next nine months were an emotional rollercoaster for her. Regulating her thyroid hormone replacement was a challenge. And the constant fear of another cancer being found or being diagnosed with another serious illness was consuming her. The emotional scars that Cancer left was truly debilitating for her. I constantly encouraged her to take back her life, seek a support group and call the American Cancer Society for help.

Napa’s Relay was scheduled for mid-July. I gathered a group of local Realtors and with the support of family and friends our team successfully raised over $8,000! Just one year after participating in my first Relay, I watched with tears in my eyes as Sarita and her boyfriend Mike walked the opening lap with the survivors. My daughter was now a Cancer Survivor, proudly wearing her purple survivor shirt.

In mid-August Sarita’s full body scan results came back. CANCER FREE!

I am proud to be involved in Napa Valley’s Relay for Life planning committee 2008. I encouraged Sarita to become involved. She contacted her local Relay for Life in Burlingame. The committee chairperson asked if she would be willing to be a committee member for the October event. She proudly accepted!

Cancer touches so many lives, and the difference we can all make, just one person at a time has such a powerful fundraising impact in the fight against this terrible disease.

I am a Relayer for Life!!!

Alica Blas

Napa, California

Are you a survivor or caregiver? Scroll up to submit your story! 

Paint Our Town Purple

Get ready to celebrate cancer survivorship and bring attention to Relay For Life through the second annual Paint Our Town Purple day on May 1! This is a fun way to promote awareness of Relay in your community.

Relay For Life volunteers and staff traveled by stretch limo (donated of course!) to hand out flyers and purple paraphernalia to promote Relay and Paint Our Town Purple 2006 in Orange County!


Class is in Session: Paint Our Town Purple Lessons From the OC!

Over 100 employees at the City of Mission Viejo dressed in purple on May 1 and Mission Viejo City Hall was decorated with purple "living trees" that they decorated to honor the May Day for Relay. City Council Members also vowed to wear purple at every City Council meeting from May 1 through the June 23 event in Mission Viejo!

Yorba Linda City Council members wore purple Relay For Life shirts at the City Council meeting, where a proclamation was presented to the Society declaring May 1 "Paint Our Town Purple" Day in Yorba Linda. In addition, Luminaria bags lit up the steps leading up to Council chambers!

The Orange County Fire Authority and Police Departments jumped on the Purple bandwagon with Orange County Fire Authority Fire Trucks and police patrol cars in Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Cypress bearing Relay For Life flags in addition to 100 OC Sheriff patrol cars decorated in purple! Other creative purple-ing included:





Did you have a successful Paint Our Town Purple last year? Share the ideas that worked and even those that didn’t here!


Fun Quiz

Making simple everyday choices in your diet can help you live a healthier lifestyle and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Answer the following questions to test your healthy-eating savvy.

1. Which of the following is the healthier choice?
a. Red meat
b. Fish or chicken
c. Hot dogs

2. How many servings of fruits and vegetables should you eat each day for optimum health?
a. Three
b. Four
c. Five

3. Which is the healthiest option?
a. White bread
b. Whole wheat bread
c. Neither; carbohydrates are unhealthy

4. Which of the following can increase your cancer risk?
a. Drinking more than one serving of alcohol per day for women, or two for men
b. Regularly eating processed meats (like hot dogs), foods high in sugar, and full-fat dairy products like whole milk, yogurt, and cheese
c. Being overweight or obese

5. How long and how frequently should you exercise for optimum health?
a. 30 minutes or more per day, five days or more per week
b. 20 minutes per day, three days per week
c. 30 minutes or more per day, three days or more per week


1. (b) Choosing lean meats like fish, chicken, and turkey is a step toward a healthier lifestyle. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting how much red and processed meat you eat.

2. (c) The American Cancer Society recommends eating five or more servings each day of fruits and vegetables. A plant-based diet can help reduce your cancer risk.

3. (b) Look for breads that list "whole grain wheat flour" as the first ingredient (which means it’s the main ingredient). Try to eat at least three servings of whole grains each day.

4. (a), (b), and (c). To reduce cancer risk, the American Cancer Society recommends: women drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day, men no more than two; choosing lean meats, eating high-sugar foods only rarely, and choosing low-fat dairy products over the full-fat version; and maintaining a healthy weight throughout life.

5. (a) The American Cancer Society recommends adults engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity on five or more days per week. It is preferable to have 45 to 60 minutes per day on five days or more per week. RFL_RelayCoolStuff 12.08 _Lucky

All students at Weaver Elementary in Rossmoor wearing purple and decorating fences and trees
Local florists donating purple flowers to patients at Los Alamitos Medical Center, where employees wore purple
Street banners and trees and poles wrapped in purple at high-traffic areas.
A local Rossmoor Car Wash marquee displaying "Paint Our Town Purple" every two minutes and employees wearing purple shirts

, we can do it if we all work together.
Another great addition to this year’s event was the support of the Police Department. After requesting a one-on-one meeting with the Chief of Police, they knew they found a solid community partner but it didn’t stop there! They asked the Chief what other organizations he thought should get involved. He responded by placing personal calls to Public Works and City Hall challenging all city workers to get involved and just try to raise more money than the Police department! Being called to action by a leader in the community made a huge difference. The committee also took turns attending every single city council meeting to give a five-minute talk announcing Relay that was broadcast on local cable access.
Last year many of the students tried to secure sponsorships on their own but weren’t taken too seriously especially when asking for large businesses to commit to be a presenting sponsor at their event. This year, they tried a different strategy by targeting mom-and-pop businesses with an ask of $500. This time, they also brought a parent with them. The results? $12,000. Not too shabby!
Relay For Life of Hawthorne is a very youth-driven event most committee members are high school students. Last year, all meetings were held at a local high school. This year they decided to create a different feel by holding the meetings at the local Moose Lodge. This made the meetings more community-focused and comfortable and welcoming for adults, too!

Talk to your staff partner and view the CA 2008 Relay Awards & Criteria and Excellence in Mission Integration Awards to find out more about how to apply for this and other awards!