Cancer survivors and supporters gather
Rhonda Szeles took a moment to look at the first lighted lantern which rose into the air at the 15th annual Relay for Life Porterville.
“To honor somebody who is fighting cancer or someone who has lost the battle,” said Szeles who explained its symbolism.
Her family has been greatly affected by cancer.
“My mother, aunts, uncles, grandparents and my daughter all had cancer,” stated Szeles the team development chair for the Relay for Life Porterville. She explained that the purpose of the event was to show support for cancer patients by not sleeping and doing hardships.
Their goal was to raise at least $95,000 to help find a cure for cancer. Among the 56 teams was the Crushers.
Wearing a white T-shirt with a mortar and pestle emblazoned on one side and purple ribbon on the other Sonia Soto gathered with the other members of her Walmart Pharmacy team to wait for the luminaria ceremony.
“I’ve been participating for the last five years. I think I have the most awesomest team,” said Soto who wanted to help spread awareness. Her advice to cancer patients is this.
“Never stop fighting. Fight to win it,” stated Soto.
Cancer survivor James Hughes waited with his wife Sherrie Hughes.
A kidney and tongue cancer survivor James Hughes is currently battling kidney cancer.
"None of us are promised tomorrow, live in the moment,” said James Hughes who added that the support he has received is overwhelming.
“It gives you a great feeling to know that so many people are backing you up. It’s a great feeling,” added James Hughes.
At the Luminaria ceremony Naomi Sanchez talked what the ceremony stood for.
“A ceremony of remembrance and hope and an opportunity to come together and remember,” said Sanchez.
On the left side of the stage the word Hope was lit up.
“H represents hope for a cure. P progress. E Eternally remember how the flame will flicker. The Star symbolizes hope,” stated Sanchez.
During the memory lap members of the community were invited to walk for a person that they know who is fighting cancer or has succumbed to cancer.
Then the survivors and their caregivers were invited onto the track.
Breast cancer survivor Marcie Medina, was only 33 when she was diagnosed.
“I had never had a mamogram. There was no family history,” said Medina who explained that she had a full mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation. When she received the diagnosis she was shocked.
“I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t real,” added Medina.
Her aunt Sara Rodriguez was angry.
“I was mad. She was so young. It doesn’t run in our family,” said Rodriguez. Medina now recommends checking to everyone, both men and women.
“If there’s a history check. Never think that it’s nothing,” stated Medina.