Re­lay for Life

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Lewin Dickson

The Liv­ing and Giv­ing team sup­port walk­ers at last year’s Re­lay For Life.

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