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Relay for Life: A story of survival

COMOX GRADE 1 STUDENT Gabriel Callicum led the survivor lap at last year’s Relay for Life in the Comox Valley, and his mother Jeannine Lindsay is helping organize this year’s Relay as a volunteer. - Renee Andor
COMOX GRADE 1 STUDENT Gabriel Callicum led the survivor lap at last year’s Relay for Life in the Comox Valley, and his mother Jeannine Lindsay is helping organize this year’s Relay as a volunteer.
— image credit: Renee Andor

Comox resident Jeannine Lindsay knows firsthand the importance of the work the Canadian Cancer Society does.

Her son Gabe (Gabriel) was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two-and-a-half years old. Now, in Grade 1, Gabe has been cancer-free for one year.

"The Canadian Cancer Society has helped so much in the last few years," says Jeannine. "When (Gabe) was diagnosed he only had a 75-per-cent survival rate put on him, and two years later it was bumped up to 80 per cent. Now it could even be higher, just from the research done — and the funding that comes from the Canadian Cancer Society goes towards that."

Gabe led the Survivors' Victory Lap last year for the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life in the Comox Valley, and now that he's no longer sick, Jeannine decided she had the time to volunteer as an organizer for this year's Relay for Life.

The 12-hour event runs from 7 p.m. Saturday, June 7 to 7 a.m. Sunday, June 8 at the Vanier Track. Relay offers a chance to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones who lost their battle with the disease and fight back against it by fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society.

"It's a really fun event," says Jeannine, who also participated in Relay when she was in her teens.

"Every year I have gotten to meet so many new people and hear stories about survival and the fight against cancer. It is amazing how much it touches people of all races, ages and backgrounds. You actually get to hear those stories at Relay For Life."

You can even volunteer your time for just a day," adds Jeannine, as she notes volunteers are still needed. "Full-time, part-time, for just one event or day makes a big difference."

Those interested in volunteering at the Valley's Relay for Life can contact Tracy Berg at 250-668-6794 or tberg@bc.cancer.ca.

Sixty-five teams have signed up for the Comox Valley event so far, which adds up to more than 500 people. More than 20 teams are from Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School; the school participates in Relay as a grad class activity to give back to the community.

This year's theme is Wave Goodbye to Cancer, and participants are encouraged to dress up in nautical-inspired outfits. Teams can register online at www.relayforlife.ca until Friday, June 6, or even Saturday at Vanier Track. The registration fee is $20. Games, food and performances will keep participants entertained throughout the night.

As well, survivors are invited to take part in the Survivors' Victory Lap, which is the first lap at 7 p.m.

Luminaries will be lit at dusk to remember loved ones who lost their battles with cancer.

Participants are asked to bring a can of food to weigh down their luminary, which will then be donated to the Comox Valley Food Bank.

For more info, visit www.relayforlife.ca or visit Relay for Life Comox Valley on Facebook.

Funds raised via Relay for Life go to the Canadian Cancer Society to support cancer research, people living with cancer and cancer prevention initiatives.

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