LINWOOD — Hundreds of different journeys with cancer brought hundreds of people to the Mustang Corral at Mainland Regional High School on Friday night, May 17, for the ninth annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Those journeys brought people to celebrate a cancer survivor in their life, to support someone who is right now fighting their battle with the disease and to remember and honor those who lost their battle.
The event raised $67,000 for the American Cancer Society and is a reminder that cancer reaches into so many families and turns their lives upside down with the diagnosis. Dr. Anjeanette Brown, a board-certified general surgeon with an interest in breast health, was honored at the Relay for Life for her work locally at AtlantiCare, helping breast cancer patients.
“One of the most difficult things I have to do is tell a patient they have cancer, and we have to talk about all the difficult things ahead. But there are so many stories of survivors and people who go into the journey of cancer and are able to come out on the other side of it, and those are the stories we want to celebrate,” Brown said. Originally from Maryland, a U.S. Navy veteran, Brown is married to Mainland graduate Michael William, Class of 1989.
The Relay for Life guest speaker talked about his journey though cancer. Sean Carey, a senior at Mainland dressed in his purple survivor shirt, talked about his dream of being a kicker in high school and college. Then he learned he had a tumor in his right hip, his kicking leg, that would cost him half of his hip and the doctors said he may never walk again.
“My plan was to prove the wrong, and I did,” Cary said and told the crowd about his very successful senior year as Mainland’s field goal kicker. “I used to ask myself — why me — why do I have to be that kid with cancer? I don’t say that any more. Now I say why not me? If I can help someone else, if my story helps someone to understand that they can beat this and get back to their life, well then, I can be that kid.”
Sean Carey will graduate in June and head to Rowan University in the fall, where he will be a member of the Rowan Prof’s football team as their kicker.
Patti Morris, of Egg Harbor Township, wanted to be a part of the Relay for Life. She attended with her daughter Devin and said she is a two-time survivor of cancer and also has multiple sclerosis.
“God keeps sending me challenges and I keep beating them,” Patti Morris said. She credits her tenacity to Gilda’s Club. “I could not be here without the support offered by Gilda’s Club. They are wonderful for people fighting cancer and for their families as well.”
The largest team at the Relay was Carey’s Kick Its team. The Triple C team raised $5,875 for the cause. Co-organizer Sharon Leavy was the highest individual fundraiser. Corporate sponsors Ken Kelly and Marc Ludwig of Allstate donated $10,000. The Coaches versus Cancer organization raised $15,000 through the Mainland baseball team.
The Relay for Life went from 6 p.m. May 17 to 6 a.m. May 18. “Someone from each team is on the track all night. It is a reminder that cancer never sleeps,” Leavy said.