Published On: Tue, May 31st, 2011

Local Cancer Survivors to walk ‘Lap of Hope’ at Relay For Life

             When the work day is over for most folks on Friday, June 17,  Julie Wilnoty will join hundreds of others to kickoff the overnight Relay For Life of Cherokee. But her cancer journey actually started nearly five years ago when she received the news: “You have cancer.”

            “I was surprised initially,” said Wilnoty. “but, with my family, we knew everything would be okay.” Wilnoty, who was completing graduate school at the University of Connecticut, learned in July 2006 that she had a well differentiated uterine carcinoma. During surgery on Aug. 21, 2006, a total hysterectomy, an ovarian mass was detected.

            Wilnoty, who works at the Cherokee Central School, tried to work everyday and stay as busy as possible. “I was lucky to have my family, my church family, my co-workers and especially the children at school take an important role in my journey,” Wilnoty said.

            “My mom is my rock! She helped me through the tears before chemo, supported me when I lost my hair 15 days after my first treatment and cheered me on when I got good followup reports,” Wilonty continued.

            Wilnoty also researched extensively prior to surgery finding a wealth of information including the American Cancer Society’S website: www.cancer.org

            “Relay is my way to give back in a way that is educational and promotes awareness. I was the mentor for the young lady who facilitated a Relay last year in this community,” Julie added.

            Relay For Life of Cherokee will kick off June 17 at 6pm with a special Survivors’ Lap, a moving experience to honor those who have defeated cancer. Survivors will join together with Julie Wilnoty to take Relay’s opening lap, unified in victory and hope, while the rest of the event’s participants surround the track to cheer them on.

            Relay For Life is a grassroots fundraising event in which individuals and teams of participants in nearly 5,100 communities nationwide walk around a track to celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer, remember loved ones lost, and commit to fight back against the disease. The money raised through Relay For Life supports the American Cancer Society’s efforts to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

             Relay For Life of Cherokee will be held at the Acquoni Expo Center, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times throughout the evening. Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, and most teams continue to fundraise with food and creative activities at their campsites during Relay.

             “Relay brings together friends, families, businesses, hospitals, schools, faith-based groups . . . people from all walks of life – all aimed at furthering the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives by helping people stay well, by helping them get well, by finding cures and by fighting back,” said Ashleigh Brown, one of this year’s planning committee co-chairs.

             “The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer,” said Lisa Duff, senior community manager for the American Cancer Society. “As a global grassroots force of more than 3 million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; by helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight.

            “As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do,” Duff continued. “As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.”  To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

             If you are a cancer survivor or caregiver and would like to take part in the Cherokee Relay For Life,  contact Kristie Fuller at hehele2010@hotmail.com or Michelle Raby at michelleraby00@frontier.com or visit www.RelayForLife.org/harrah’s-EBCI. All survivors receive a free Relay For Life T-shirt.

– American Cancer Society

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