Relay for Life
Just six weeks into his new job, Lewin Dickson will play a major role in Relay For Life, the Cancer Society of New Zealand Manawatu Centre’s main fundraiser of the the year.
Lewin was appointed to the role of Supportive Care Coordinator on February 1, taking over the role from Pauline Wharerau.
At Relay for Life Lewin will be co-ordinator of the survivors’ tent, offering support to cancer survivors.
‘‘I’ll be supporting anyone who needs someone to talk to. Relay For Life can be quite a moving time for people with cancer of those who have lost someone.’’
Lewin comes from a counselling background, having mainly worked in residential rehabilitation facilities and, diversely, hospitality.
‘‘I think both of those backgrounds marry up. Ultimately I am here to provide a service to people and I understand what it takes to provide support.’’
Being new to the job and new to Manawatu, Lewin says it has been an interesting journey.
‘‘So far Manawatu has been very welcoming and the people at the Cancer Society are amazing.’’
Prior to joining the staff at Addis House, Lewin says he had no previous dealings with the Cancer Society.
He also had few dealings with people with cancer.
‘‘My great-grandmother had a double mastectomy, and that was the first and most significant brush with cancer I had.’’
Already Lewin has been out in the community while he gets to grips with his new role.
‘‘I find the best way to learn is by doing. I tell people I am new to the job and they understand that in the short term I am still learning the ropes.’’
He says a big part of his role is talking to people and in terms of finding solutions to their problems, it’s about pointing them in the right direction and finding the right support service within the Cancer Support.
‘‘That might be the Living Well programme or the men’s or women’s support groups, telling people about the transport service if they are having trouble getting to appointments and treatments, providing information on different types of cancer and helping people access other services such as the psychology service or the client advocacy service.
‘‘As I get to know the networks I will become more useful.’’
Apart from his work in Palmerston North and Feilding, Lewin is acting caretaker of the Horowhenua area until a support co-ordinator can be appointed there.
When teams take part in Relay For Life on March 12 and 13 they will embrace the event’s catch phrase of Celebrate, Remember, Fightback and will also recognise the invaluable work of the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make the event the success that it is.
Relay For Life is the Cancer Society’s leading community event for people of all ages and fitness levels to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and their carers, to remember loved ones lost and to fight back by raising funds and cancer awareness.
Teams of 10 or more camp out overnight at Palmerston North’s Hokowhitu Campus and take part in a walk/run relay while enjoying a full programme of entertainment and activities. One of the entertainment highlights will be cast members performing several items from the musical Hair.
This year marks the 16th year Relay For Life has been held and over the years it has grown in terms of participation and community sponsorship.
Cancer Society of New Zealand Manawatu Centre fundraising event organiser Faye James, with the help of her huge team of volunteers, is the force behind the event and has been from the beginning.
‘‘Right from the start I was hoping the community would engage with the event because it’s not simply about fundraising, it’s more about the message of celebrating, remembering and fighting back.’’
The first Relay For Life attracted 87 teams.
‘‘We hoped to have at least 40 teams so it was fantastic to see such support for cancer survivors, as well as raising $189,000.’’
A total of 112 teams will be taking part and Faye is confident funds from this year’s Relay For Life will lift the overall amount raised over the 16 years to reach the $5 million mark.
Even before the event begins, teams raise money and awareness. Each team, which sets its own fundraising goals, is led by a team captain who co-ordinates the team, helping them set and achieve goals. Teams can begin setting up from 7am and registration starts at 9am. Any survivors wishing to walk the lap of honour can register from 11am and collect their red sash.
The event starts at midday on Saturday March 12 with the emotional survivors’ lap of honour which will see some 300 cancer survivors walk the track together. Following this all the teams will complete a lap together then the individual laps will begin.
At dusk on Saturday evening the candlelight ceremony begins. This is a moving tribute to both survivors and loved ones lost. A lone piper will bring even more emotion to the occasion.
While Relay For Life is a time for the community to come together in support of cancer survivors and their carers as well as a time of remembrance, it is still a significant fundraiser for the Cancer Society.
‘‘As we receive no government funding we rely heavily on the generosity of the community to carry out the services we provide and over the past 15 years money raised from Relay For Life has helped fund a number of projects within this region,’’ says Faye.
This year the Cancer Society of New Zealand Manawatu Centre wishes to acknowledge the volunteers who help out before, during and after the event.
‘‘We want to recognise the volunteers and the difference they make, from the organising committee through to the volunteers on the day throughout the 24 hours. Because they volunteer their time, this helps us to raise the money we do raise. They really assist us in meeting our budget.’’
All the district’s Lions Clubs are responsible for catering the big Sunday morning breakfast while Palmerston North Rotary Club members will sell light sticks and donate the proceedings to Relay For Life.
St John officers will be on duty throughout the 24 hours to provide help with all first aid requirements. Local sports physiotherapists will be stationed next to St John and massage therapists will also give their time to provide massage treatment.
The Living and Giving team support walkers at last year’s Relay For Life.