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Relay for Life campaign powers past cancer

Lyndsay Meikle and her mother, Leanne, used to spend their summers strawberry picking and swimming in their backyard pool.

“I have a lot of memories with her swimming,” said Meikle, a community studies student.

These memories were on Meikle’s mind on March 22 when she and her teammates participated in the Relay for Life event held at Algonquin. During the event at the lumineers table, Meikle wrote her mom’s name on a white paper bag. She then gently placed it in a pile that were already decorated and will later on be among the side of the race course.

These bags, called lumineers, are just one of the symbols of the Relay for Life event.

When Meikle was seven years old, Leanne was holding a tray of cookie to the guys who were building the pool at the new house. She tripped over Meikle’s boots causing her to brake her ankle and was brought to the hospital. Upon examination of her ankle, they found a mole so they looked at that.

They discovered that she had skin cancer.

Leanne fought cancer and did chemotherapy for six months, but in March 2008 she died.

At this year’s Relay for Life event, Meikle and her team raised the most money in the days counting down to the event. For Meikle and the other participants, the event is a way to raise money to stop cancer and show people that they can make a difference.

“It’s a chance to come to terms with things, and to reflect and celebrate who have passed or who have beaten cancer,” said Meikle, who was her team’s captain.

Participants enjoyed their time with board games, water pong, tight roping, jumping on a bouncy castle or walking laps around the track.

Students created a team to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and with the funds it helps further the research and supports the patients.

Kelsey Munro and Caitlin Bauer, co-chairs, work side by side to plan the whole event.

Munro started Relay For Life at the college three years ago. She built the club from scratch and it evolved into a welcoming committee that plans the event to make it a success. The years throughout that Munro helped plan relay, she ends her chapter of being co-chair due to her being in her last year of school.

“In the last few days, it’s really hit me. My whole identity has been relay for life,” said Munro.

She participates in the relay because many people in her life have had cancer. A close family friend who was active in the cancer community was diagnosed with bone cancer. Munro was visited her at her cottage and saw her sitting on the couch. She realized that the disease was a difficult to live with.

For Bauer, she participates in the relay for her grandparents. Cancer runs through her family and while she was in high school, it motivated her to raise the funds to support her love ones and others too.

“With Relay For Life, I’m able to make a change,” said Bauer. “I’m able to help: the medicine that comes along, earlier diagnosis, more prevention and be able to not fear it as much.”

Among the many survivors that attended was Robert Hamilton. He ate healthily, exercised regularly and never thought that he would be diagnosed colorectal cancer.

“There was zero symptoms at all. It slowly grew and I didn’t know what to do.

“The statistics are there. It could happen to you — or someone beside you — and it’s scary to think about it but it’s true,” said Hamilton.

With the experience he went through, he tells his story for others to realize that cancer can affect people who have it or not.

With Munro stepping down as co-chair and passing the torch down to Bauer, they’ve made a great connection with each other and have faith that next year will be even better.

At the end of the night they’d raised $16,325.33, and it’s still growing. Teams will be accepting donations until April 21.

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