Bonds galore at Relay
For the past 30 years, Doug Gray has been conducting lung cancer research at the Ottawa Hospital. Since much of his funding comes from the Canadian Cancer Society, he decided to attend the Relay for Life in Maxville on Friday evening to see how a lot of the money is raised.
Dr. Gray – who is quick to point out that he is not a medical doctor even though he does have a PhD – confessed that the event would be an emotional one for him, particularly the annual luminary ceremony that takes place after sunset. In that ceremony, relay participants remember friends or family members who succumbed to cancer by writing their names on small white paper bags and placing a luminary inside. Once darkness has fallen, the lit bags around the preimeter of the Maxville Fairgounds track look positively churchlike.
It was emotional for Dr. Gray as both his mother and father passed away of lung and prostrate cancer respectively.
During a brief scrum with reporters on Friday, Dr. Gray said that while the disease has not yet been conquered, researchers are making great strides. As an example, he told a story of the mother of his daughter’s friend, who had skin cancer that migrated to her brain.
“It used to be a lethal form of cancer,” he says. “She was put on trial for a new drug and she lived an extra seven years. She was even able to see her daughter graduate high school and university.”
Dr. Gray says that lung cancer is one of the toughest cancers to beat, though he adds that the Ottawa research facility is at the forefront of cancer research in the country.
This year’s edition of the Relay for Life attracted about 250 people and raised $73,000. Allison St-Jean, Community Fundraising Specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society, says that amount exceeded this year’s fundraising goal.
The society had adopted a James Bond theme for the relay’s 19th year in Maxville. Several of the teams did their best to incorporate 007 imagery into their stay. For some it was creating a poster, others wore tuxedo-printed Tshirts and others even brought playing cards as an homage to Bond’s success at the gambling table.
SURVIVORS’ LAP: The survivors’ lap is always a highlight of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which took place in Maxville on Friday evening. Some of the lap’s participants had beaten cancer more than once.