Relay generates strong emotions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2000

Features Editor

May 24, 2000 8:30 PM

Tears are said to be the greatest visible expression of deep emotion. There are tears of sorrow and there are tears of joy.

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The tears that were shed as Relay for Life officially opened Friday night were tears of unbridled joy.

Relay 2000 opened with the Survivors’ Walk and hundreds of people lined the track to applaud those who have survived cancer as they took the first Relay lap.

The first lap was led by Angie Roling, honorary chairperson of Relay 2000, and Holman Outlaw, honorary "little chair" of the event. Both served admirably during the 2000 campaign – Mrs. Roling as an inspiring spokesperson and Holman as a "small" reminder that cancer plays no favorites.

Family, friends and supporters joined the survivors on the second lap and there were few dry eyes among them or among those who honored them as they passed by.

Nedetria Talbot, chairperson of Relay 2000, said the survivors are the true stars of Relay – the real heroes in today’s world. They have fought the battle with cancer and their victories give hope to others who are and will be engaged in the battle with this deadly disease.

Joann Shiver didn’t participate in Relay for Life last year. She had just returned home from Texas where she had undergone cancer treatment at M.D. Anderson.

"I wanted to participate in Relay for Life but I couldn’t. I was too sick," she said. "I wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to be a part of Relay for Life. Honestly, at that time, I didn’t believe I would be here another year."

But Friday night, May 19, 2000, Joann Shiver walked the Survivor’s Lap with her husband Dr. Jerry Shiver and it was the greatest walk of her life.

"I was so proud and so thankful to be able to walk the lap," she said. "It was just wonderful to be able to walk as a survivor and I was touched to see that so many people cared."

Shiver expressed appreciation to all of those who organized Relay and to all of those who helped raise an astounding $160,000.

"For a county our size, that was amazing," she said. "That just goes to show how much people really care. They give of their time and their talents and their money and it is making a difference in the lives of those of us who have cancer."

Shiver said if she had been diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, the treatments that she has undergone and the medications she is taking would not have been available.

"Every day we hear about something new in the treatment of cancer," she said. "The money that is raised through Relay helps to fund the research that develops these new medications and treatments. I believe we’re on the threshold of a big breakthrough in cancer research. I believe we’re close to finding a cure. It is my prayer that we are."

For Shiver, being able to be a part of Relay was the answer to her prayers and to the many prayers that were said on her behalf.

"You can’t go through this without the love, concern and support of your family, friends and neighbors," she said. "I know that I was on the prayer list in many churches. Without prayer, belief and hope, you can’t make it."

The prayers came from those she knew and those she didn’t know. Her husband and family wouldn’t let her give up and their belief became her belief. Her hope is for a cure for cancer and it is that hope that propels tens of thousands to take up the fight each year through Relay for Life.

Although Shiver is like most of the heroes of Relay who don’t like to be put in the spotlight, she said "this needs to be talked."

"I don’t know of hardly a family in Pike County who has not had some experience with cancer," she said.

So, if you think you’re tired of hearing about Relay for Life, think how tired you are of having cancer claim the lives of your loved ones, friends and neighbors.

Think, if you were diagnosed with cancer, how proud you’d be that someone, somewhere was fighting the battle against this deadly disease long before you were cast into it.

Think about that. Then, think about next year.