The sun rises on Relay for Life

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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While party songs boomed over a loudspeaker, Jeanette Murphy concluded at about 5 a.m. that she was “beyond tired.”

About 10 hours into the 12-hour Relay for Life trek along the Harry Jerome Track, Murphy suggested that the physical strain of the event is a good reminder.

“When you’re walking it’s just one 12-hour day that you’re walking, and this is a little bit of what pain and suffering would be for somebody with cancer -- the tiredness, the hurting in your feet,” the event participant said.

“This is 12 hours, and they’ve got to do this until they’re done their treatments.”

Dismantling her team’s tent shortly after Saturday’s 4:42 a.m. sunrise, Cathy McNabb said that it was surprisingly easy to stay up all night.

“You just get on the adrenalin,” she said.

“As you’re walking around and you’re feeling tired you think of the battle that people are going through with their cancer. They don’t get that break.

“When they’re tired of it, they keep on going, and their battle is for a long, long time -- Forever, even when they go into remission.”

As a 15-year cancer survivor, McNabb knows all too well the trials and tribulations of cancer.

Although she hasn’t participated in Relay for Life for a number of years, her family and friends decided that her 15th anniversary was a prime time to get a team back together.

Named M&Ms in recognition of the first letter of most of their last names, the team pulled together about $2,500 toward the day’s Canadian Cancer Foundation cause.  

“Many of us -- a lot of family lost to cancer and/or are still fighting, so we’re just pulling together and fighting, and remembering and honouring,” McNabb said.

“I think we’ve ignited some interest in the next generation and they were very touched with everything that’s happened, so I can see it continuing.”

Murphy’s team, “Heaven’s Support Squad,” participated on behalf of family members and friends who lost their battles with cancer.

For Murphy, inspiration came from her father, Frank, who died in 2012.

Across the Max Clunie Field, members of the Gee family were resting their tired bodies.

As you’re walking around and you’re feeling tired you think of the battle that people are going through with their cancer. They don’t get that break. When they’re tired of it, they keep on going, and their battle is for a long, long time -- Forever, even when they go into remission. Cathy McNabb

Walking in recognition of father and grandfather Bev Gee, the group raised close to $2,000 through donations and a trade show at Christopher Lake.

“It’s the 10-year anniversary of being brain cancer free,” Bev said. “Twelve hours doesn’t seem like a long time until you’ve been walking all night long. But, it’s been worth it.”

Although every one of the 57 teams participating in this year’s Relay for Life had a unique and often touching story to share, a commonality between all a sense of support.

Sporting a healthy support team, Donovan Fraser was seen shortly after sunrise on his 10th hour of circling the Harry Jerome Track.

“I haven’t left the track yet,” Fraser said while being pushed on his wheelchair by friend Kendall Schneider.

Recognized as 2012’s honorary Relay for Life chair, Fraser and his support team called “Leukemia Lunatics” have kept at it, raising about $7,500 for this year’s effort.

“It’s lots of fun, on top of the meaning that we’re raising money for cancer,” team member Olivia Fetch said.

Event chair Lyle Karasiuk counted 240 survivors walking the victory lap at Friday night’s event kickoff, with 637 people registered for the 12-hour walk, split between 57 teams.

“The weather was a little iffy at the beginning -- it was really windy and blowing around and we thought some of those tents would surely blow away, but it calmed right down,” Karasiuk said as SaskTel Pioneers readied a 6 a.m. breakfast for participants.

“Everyone’s still pumped and happy, and we just had a great night … We’re really pleased with the outcome.”

At latest update, this year's Relay for Life has raised an estimated $215,000. Five teams raised $8,000 or more, with top honours going to the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Bears.

This year's total is up from last year's $211,000, but remains shy of the 2012 total of $284,000.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Foundation

Geographic location: Christopher Lake

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