Yumans fighting cancer, one step at a time Saturday
This weekend, over a thousand Yumans will spend the night walking to raise money for cancer research at Desert Sun Stadium.
But there's more to Relay for Life than just fundraising. It's also an opportunity for survivors to connect with other survivors, to remember those who've lost the fight against cancer and to celebrate anyone whose life has been touched in some way by this awful disease. And really, that's everyone.
An informal survey in the newsroom found that everyone present knew someone – a friend or loved one -- who had cancer. The outcomes varied. Some won their battles, while others weren't as fortunate.
It's a harsh, harsh disease. The name itself is rather misleading. Cancer in reality encompasses more than 100 diseases, but the common thread is that it begins with abnormal cells that grow out of control and then invade other tissues within the body, according to the American Cancer Society.
According to the American Cancer Society, this year, about 580,350 U.S. residents are expected to die from cancer – nearly 1,600 people a day. It's the second most common cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease takes more lives each year. In fact, it's estimated that half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes.
It impacts every part of a patient's life – their physical health, their mental well-being as they face an uncertain outcome, their finances … every corner of their life is somehow touched. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimated the annual overall financial costs of cancer in 2008 at $201.5 billion.
The impact is staggering.
Thankfully, there is Relay for Life.
Since the mid-1980s, Relay events have raised over $3 billion for cancer research and cancer patients.
Yuma's Relay events have raised more than $200,000 each year over the last three years, organizers say, and they are hoping to surpass that number again this year. Donations from a team at Country Roads RV Resort total over $14,700 this year, while the Crane Believers have raised $9,995.
Participants walk to raise money for research, with the hopes that in the future, there will be easier ways to treat cancer. That there will be a cure. That one day, their children won't need to walk anymore.
Yuma's Relay for Life kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday. Highlights include a survivor lap at 7 p.m. and a luminaria ceremony at 8:30 p.m. To learn more, to participate or to donate, visit www.RelayForLife.org/yumaaz.