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Survivors gather at Relay for Life Breakfast

American Cancer Society hosts event honoring cancer survivors

Posted: April 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Heather Warrick, a cancer survivor and the American Cancer Society Southern California director of corporate health care initiatives, speaks to an audience of cancer survivors, caregivers, their family and friends at the fifth annual Relay for Life Breakfast at Robinson Country Club recently.

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Cancer survivors and their family, friends and supporters gathered at Robinson Ranch Country Club in Canyon Country recently for the American Cancer Society Santa Clarita Valley Unit’s fifth annual Relay for Life Breakfast.

The breakfast, which honored cancer survivors and their caregivers, is a precursor to the Relay for Life fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. With 1-in-every-100 Americans participating in a Relay for Life across the country, the cumulative effort is the largest movement across the globe to end cancer.

The 2011 Relay for Life of Santa Clarita Valley will take place at Central Park at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21. Relays are 24 hours in length.

“At Relay, teams of people camp out at Central Park and take turns walking around the track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event, because cancer never sleeps,” volunteer Susan Pearsall told the audience at the March 11 fundraiser. “The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remembered loved ones lost and fight back against the disease.”

After a welcome and thank you to sponsors, including financial adviser Earl C. Robinson and Grace Baptist Church, guests watched a touching “Relay Moment Video” created by Teresa Kerr as they ate breakfast, which was coordinated by the Relay For Life Survivor Breakfast Committee, consisting of volunteers Brenda Robinson, Agnes Russell and Nancy Coulter, American Cancer Society Santa Clarita Valley Unit president.

Coulter presented a brief history of the American Cancer Society, which was founded in 1913. At that time, the survival rate for cancer was 1-in-9. The American Cancer Society was instrumental in launching education programs such as the surgeon general’s warning on tobacco and published reports on smoking, research, diet, breast cancer and colon cancer.

“We find ourselves in the year 2011 and for every two people who receive a cancer diagnosis, at least one of those two people will survive,” Coulter said. “We are closer and closer to a cure for cancer.”

Cancer strikes 1-in-every-2 men, and 1-in-every-3 women. “This year, in California alone, more than 135,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 55,000 Californians will die from the disease,” Coulter said. “Those are difficult statistics to hear. But the good news is, whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night, the American Cancer Society is there for people facing cancer to get the support they need.”

Such services include: the Cancer Survivor’s Network, an online community for people with cancer and their families; Road to Recovery, rides to treatment for patients in need, assistance with wigs and prosthetics, support groups, educational classes; and Look Good, Feel Better, where cosmetologists meet with patients to provide beauty tips when dealing with skin issues and hair loss due to cancer treatment.

Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has spent more than $3.4 billion on cancer research.

“It’s one of the many and most vital ways the American Cancer Society saves lives, by funding and conducting research to help us better understand, prevent, find and treat cancer,” Coulter said. “As the nation’s largest private funder of cancer research, the Society has long been at the forefront of the scientific battle against the disease, leading the way to a tomorrow with better treatments, new early detections test and more cures, and of course, more birthdays.”

Coulter introduced her daughter Heather Warrick, a longtime cancer survivor and the American Cancer Society Southern California director of health care corporate initiatives, whose emotional speech had the audience in tears, before volunteer Janine Jones closed the breakfast.

“We thank you again for joining our celebration this morning, because it is very important for us to honor our survivors so they know we are there for them. We also thank our caregivers and admire their good hearts for the generosity of time, energy and spirit they share with those cancer survivors who need a kind word or shoulder,” Jones said. “You all make a difference in this world and we are very proud of you.”

For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org. For more information on the 2011 Relay for Life of Santa Clarita Valley, visit www.scvrelay.org.

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