The 6th Annual Relay for Life was held July 19th & 20th in Oakland to stand up to cancer and honor those who have fought or are fighting cancer, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
Each year, globally the event involves more than 4 million people in over 20 countries, and raises much needed funds for awareness to save lives from cancer. This year, through individual and team efforts the Oakland event raised over $26,000.
The theme this year at event, held at Oakland Technical High School, was “Fight Back,” inspiring relay participants to take action against a disease that has taken the lives of so many. Participants and survivors celebrated what they have overcome. Family members also had the opportunity to grieve, take action and remember.
“It feels good to be around people who understand,” said Gwendolyn Davis-Kyrimis, who created the team “Joy for Life” in honor of her sister Jacquelyn Inez Davis, who lost her battle to cervical cancer in February.
Standing beside her nephew Marcus Oliphant, Davis said doing the relay together as a family created healing as Oliphant grieves his mother and Kyrimis grieves her sister.
Davis was a transit worker in Reno, and at her memorial over 30 of her co-workers showed up to express love.
“This is an extension of that love we felt,” Oliphant said.
African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.
If the spread is not controlled, it can result in death. The disease is caused by external and internal factors. The causes are complex but definitely reflect inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing and overall standard of living, as well as access to high quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment of services.
Although the overall racial disparity in cancer death rates is decreasing, in 2009, the death rate for all cancers combined continued to be 31 percent higher among African American men and 15 percent higher among Black women.
Cancer survivor Sanalli Phelps spoke about how her successful bout with cancer, changed her life forever. “Cancer lifted me up, freed me,” she said. “I learned to say no to others and yes to myself.
Phelps says her motto now is “Life is short, but it’s mine.”
Most cancers are treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biologic therapy, targeted therapy or some combination of these. A substantial proportion of cancer cases and deaths could be prevented with testing, adoption of healthier lifestyles, such as avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy body weight, wearing sunscreen and being physically active. Yes, Black people need sunscreen too.
For more info or to donate go to http://www.cancer.org/cancer/