A ‘Relay for Life’

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The young came out. Senior citizens made their way to the track to get their walk on. Dignitaries and law enforcement personnel showed their support. A host of community residents camped out for 24 hours with tents and food to solidarity behind the effort to raise awareness about beating cancer.

They came out in full force on Saturday, June 7 and on Sunday, June 8. You had walkers of all ages. There were local community organizations on hand. Food was aplenty. Warm smiles greeted the steady flow of traffic coming into Buena Park Junior High School.

The young came out. Senior citizens made their way to the track to get their walk on. Dignitaries and law enforcement personnel showed their support. A host of community residents camped out for 24 hours with tents and food to solidarity behind the effort to raise awareness about beating cancer.

They came out in full force on Saturday, June 7 and on Sunday, June 8. You had walkers of all ages. There were local community organizations on hand. Food was aplenty. Warm smiles greeted the steady flow of traffic coming into Buena Park Junior High School.

This year’s Buena Park/La Palma Relay for Life event was a success in many ways. Raising money for cancer research and bringing attention to how to put an end to the deadly disease is not the only way to measure that success.

Just looking over the wide spectrum of cancer survivors and examining the number of years those individuals who showed up have pushed back cancer is a victory in itself. Some had survived as long as 26 years. There were those in attendance who are just going through beginning stages of their trek in the quest to defeat cancer.

They all have two things in common: being a cancer survivor and making people aware that this disease has no boundaries. It is a disease that can snatch the life away from the young and whittle away the elderly. With that being said, those walking and supporting the Buena Park/La Palma Relay for Life event wanted to show they overcame a life obstacle and to encourage others so that they can fight back, too.

They all have testimonies about surviving cancer.

Buena Park Police Chief Corey S. Sianez and 65thAssemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva were among the dignitaries to show their support of the event. Quirk-Silva can certainly sympathize with the cancer survivors. She had a brother who came down with cancer. The same can be said about Chief Sianez, who lost family members to cancer as well.

Sianez has been an active participant in the event for years, he said.

“I think I’ve been involved in all of the (Buena Park/La Palma) Relay for Life here for the past 11 years,” Sianez said. “I had grandparents who died of cancer. I have employees…I have a young Explorer right now that is dealing with cancer now. His goal was to become a police officer. I think he’s 19-years-old right now. He has cancer in his upper arm, and he’s never going to fulfill his dream. It’s things like that…that makes you want to come out and fight for the cause.”

Sianez said the event is good for the community because it allows an effort from the neighboring cities to band together to bring more awareness to cancer and the never ending struggle to get rid of it.

“It creates an opportunity to get together and band together and to celebrate the life of those who have been survivors,” Sianez said. “It’s huge…It’s that will to survive. It just comes into play for many people’s lives. We’re able to generate some revenue to help with the research and help fight this fight so that this terrible disease goes away one day.”

Those who have beaten the odds like longtime breast cancer survivor Julie Elkins, give other individuals who are struggling in coming to terms with how to battle the disease, a reason to believe they can overcome.

Elkins, a minister and pastor of a church, credits her survival of 12 years to her personality. Elkins is one of those people who love to laugh. Laughing, along with her Christian faith, has been Elkins’ saving grace. Elkins shared her story of being the odds to a throng of walkers, cancer survivors and walkers in support of the event.

On several occasions, Elkins felt a lump in her chest. Each time she felt the lump, Elkins went to the doctor what was going on. Each time, she was told she didn’t have cancer, but doctors told her they didn’t know what it was. The dreaded day came when she was officially told that she had cancer. Elkins said she kind of knew what was going on by the way she was directed to certain rooms.

The giveaway she said was when she was escorted into a room and read a sign about things to know about cancer. Elkins is still around telling her story to whoever will listen to her. She is encouraged by the fact she has had support from her family and draws inspiration from her faith to keep moving ahead.

She’s back to laughing again. That’s a good thing. Her smile and jovial nature gives her peace. It is also a sign of encouragement for other cancer survivors.

“I knew I would be taken care of,” Elkins said. “I have God on my side. I laugh my way through life, anyway. I kept my nurses smiling. My humor and my faith is what got me through.”

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