By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Casey Relay For Life is on track to raise an astounding $4 million since its inception, according to organisers.
This year’s fundraiser on 2 and 3 March has so far attracted more than $160,000 in pledged donations for cancer research, prevention and support.
More than 1700 participants in 73 teams will take part in the 24-hour relay at Akoonah Park, Berwick – which starts with a moving candle-light ceremony for those touched by cancer.
The event has been running for 15 years. It will be the first for cancer survivors and friends Laura Langdon and Kaitlyn O’Kane.
Both are members of Young Adult Cancer Support group – which are running in the relay as Team Margariti.
Kaitlyn, 22, still suffers side-effects from radiation and chemo treatment after being diagnosed with a brain tumour nine years ago.
She gets tired, and it’s still hard for her to concentrate. Only recently, she’s recovered enough to resume full-time studies.
Having been bullied at school during and after her illness, she struck a friendship with Laura while at a Peter Mac seminar for young people.
“We got along really well. It’s really good to meet other young people who have been through similar circumstances.”
She was also looking forward to bonding with the hundreds of participants at Relay For Life.
“You never go back to normal,” she said of her health battle.
“That’s the biggest shock. You have to acknowledge it and deal with it.”
Laura says her life goals changed dramatically after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a 21-year-old.
The health science student endured several false diagnoses – such as coeliac disease and amazingly, pregnancy.
It was nearly a relief when doctors discovered an 18-centimetre tumour.
“It showed I was right to be concerned. At last, everything kicked into action.”
After gruelling chemo, she says she was reduced to a skeleton of herself.
“It can make you so powerless.
“There’s nothing you can do except hope that the treatment works.
“Even going in Relay For Life, now we feel we’re doing something about this.
“We’re using our experience in a positive way – raising awareness and raising funds.”
She is now studying occupational therapy, looking to move into work in palliative and oncology fields.
“Things in health care are improving, survival rates are improving, people are living longer.
“So there is hope.”
Casey Relay For Life is at Akoonah Park, Berwick, starting at 5.45pm on 2 March. Details: ‘Casey Relay For Life’ on Facebook