By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
As the crowd began to gather for the annual Relay For Life Survivors’ breakfast Wednesday morning, Linda Walker’s mind wandered back to 17 years ago when she first received the news that she was suffering from stage 4 colon cancer.
That’s when Walker’s battle began and why she faithfully attends the Relay events, helping to encourage and rally others who have faced or continue to face cancer.
“It was a wonderful morning at our Relay breakfast, we had a great crowd of over 200 people,” Walker said. “We were able to see many smiling faces that we had not seen since last year. It’s always an emotional morning because we’re thinking about the ones that have fought and are not with us, but we celebrate the fact that there are so many survivors. We had great support from the community and we’re looking forward to the Relay walk which will be Friday night and hope that our survivors will come and take part in that.”
Along with being a cancer survivor, Walker is a Relay For Life Committee member and said she is blessed to be able to work with the team.
“I am a survivor, soon to be 17 years and I have been blessed to not have any kind of reoccurrence,” Walker said. “It was a surprise to me when I got sick — it just came upon me. When I went to the doctor, I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and I wasn’t given a whole lot of good means there, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I wasn’t going to survive. Through all the wonderful research and the work of the people who put their effort into finding a cure, the medicine that they gave me worked. I believe that all the healing came from God, but he used that medicine and those doctors to do it, and so I am celebrating and fighting back.”
Patrice Fitzgerald was a volunteer with Relay For Life for 11 years before taking on the role as a staff member and said that Cullman is a great community to work with and represent.
“If I could put it into words what Relay For Life is, I would say it is the most amazing overnight experience in the fight against cancer,” Fitzgerald said. “You will come out and participate in games, activities and entertainment, joining other survivors, caregivers and many just interested in fighting cancer. It’s a great night of ceremonies and fun. The teams will set up inside of our track and stay out there all night.”
Survivors’ Committee member Jan Pierce reported having over 200 at the breakfast. The Holly Pond Civitan Club provided the breakfast and the Beta Delta chapter helped with registering those involved, as well as, making the shirts.
The Survivors will have a dinner Friday night at 5 p.m. followed by the Survivors’ Walk at 7 p.m. The Relay For Life overnight event will be held at the Cullman County Fairgrounds on Friday, May 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“All of this will help the American Cancer Society,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re helping people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back. Every effort by this community is making a a huge difference.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext 270.