The 2018 Comox Valley Relay for Life is set for June 9 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the Vanier track. Black Press file photo

Relay for Life organizer all too familiar with cancer diagnosis

While Sean Russell has only been on the Relay for Life in the Comox Valley organizing committee for a few years, he knows quite well how cancer changes the lives of those who receive the diagnosis.

Russell’s wife has been diagnosed with cancer five times.

He explained there is a cancer gene being carried on both her mother and father’s side of the family which makes her particularly susceptible to the disease.

She is currently in remission, but “basically everyone in her family has cancer,” he said.

When the couple’s son was a student at Mark Isfeld school, Russell often volunteered at Relay for Life; the senior classes at the school hosted teams and raised more than $30,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, and since 2015, have raised more than $100,000 since 2015.

He was approached by organizers and asked if he would like to join the 10-person organizing committee.

“It takes a lot of work to put this all together … it’s really a tremendous event for families of all ages. It brings the community together for a great cause.”

Despite having to deal with cancer for more than 20 years, Russell and his family understand they want to have a life outside of the diagnosis.

“It just can’t be about cancer. There are the times in between, and we also raised a child, and we wanted to make sure his life is not about being afraid of losing his mother. The thing about cancer is that it touches everyone; the disease touches every family.”

He said the Relay for Life event not only raises funds for cancer research but also provides support and brings people together.

While the goal to raise as much money as possible, Russell credited the community for stepping up and assisting with the event.

“I’ve been going around to different businesses, and everyone is so very supportive and generous. Cancer touches people to the core.”

The 2018 Comox Valley Relay for Life is set for June 9 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the Vanier track at 3001 Vanier Drive.

For more information, to register or donate, visit https://bit.ly/2LRxEVZ.

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