About 100 participants took to a track at Willoughby Community Park for the first in-person Fraser Valley Relay for Life since 2019.
Participants in the Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser raised more than $80,000 in pledges and donations before the event, that saw teams walking laps around a soccer field at Willoughby Community Park on Saturday, June 11 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Master of ceremonies Naiomi Kragh noted that almost half of all Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
But she also pointed out that survival rates for most types of cancer have been improving for years, as treatment improves and new treatments are developed.
“Relay for Life is a critical way we can change the future,” she said.
Diana Beglaw shared the story of her cancer journey with the crowd.
She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was 43. Her doctors told her surgery was the only option.
“They also told me attitude was everything, and I’ve been told I have an attitude, so I figured I can’t lose!” she said.
After a seven hour surgery follow-up biopsies, Beglaw was told that the surgery got all of the cancer.
“This is my 18th year participating in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life,” she said. “I still cry when I walk the survivor’s lap and light the luminaries.”
As of April, Beglaw said she has been cancer free for 20 years, which drew a round of applause from the participants.
The returning relay was smaller than many of those before the pandemic, but still drew a crowd of about 100 participants in 20 teams.
Among the top fundraising teams was expected to be the Gallery team, which raised $30,037, according to member Kari Medos.
She raised $27,150 of that herself over the course of a number of events and sales during the course of the year. Medos had set herself a goal of getting her total lifetime fundraising above $100,000, and she topped $106,000, she said.
“I know that we’re making a difference,” she said of her reason for devoting her time to the fundraising. She said the funds provide help for people with cancer. “We’re helping them, or the people behind them.”
The event included dancers and bands performing, a food truck, a photo booth, and a dad joke contest.
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