• Last modified 1760 days ago (Aug. 29, 2019)


Cancer battles drive volunteers to help raise money for charity

Staff writer

Debbie Conner said watching her mother die from breast cancer that metastasized into liver cancer spurred her involvement with cancer charity Relay For Life.

Her mother was a strong woman, but her battle with cancer steadily weakened her until she could no longer do things that were once everyday tasks.

“It sucked the life out of her,” the relay event leader said. “I don’t want to die like that, and I don’t want my kids to die like that.”

This year’s relay was earlier in the day than it was in the past. Instead of “going into darkness” and “emerging into light,” a move to afternoon and evening meant more people participated, Conner said.

“We’re trying some different things,” she said. “The change of time has been very good for this relay.”

Seven team captains, four leadership team members, and many team members and walkers participated this year.

Team leader Margie Sandwell, with a team of 15 members, showed up for her 22nd year to raise money for American Cancer Society.

“About half of them are survivors,” Sandwell said of her team. “They work harder.”

What prompted her to get involved with the relay was a diagnosis of cancer of her colon and liver 22 years ago.

“I was ready to give up,” Sandwell said.

The mother of four, grandmother of nine, and great-grandmother of seven said she’s “very blessed” to have beaten the disease. Much support encouraged her to stand her ground against cancer.

“I couldn’t have made it without that support,” she said.

Her brother, who also had cancer of the colon, died 10 years ago. Teams raffled items, held silent auctions, and even had a frozen T-shirt contest in which participants pounded frozen T-shirts on the pavement and sidewalk of Marion Aquatic Center until the shirts were pliable enough to put on.

Last modified Aug. 29, 2019