Cancer survivors lined up by the dozens for a lap of their own to begin Friday's Relay for Life in Jackson. The Survivors Lap isn't a somber occasion; it's a celebration of life. And for many, a celebration of a second, even a third chance at life.
"I'm a survivor, that's the story!" says Hiawatha Powell proudly. She's survived two bouts with cancer, first in 2004, then again in 2011.
Regenia Sulton is also a survivor: "Five years later, looking forward to 50 years!"
Louis Catchings has been in charge of Jackson's Relay for almost a decade. He hopes to raise $100,000 from this year's event. It's a lofty goal, but he calls the survivors 'heroes' and says you can't put a price on life.
"Those people are heroes, because they went through something so severe, but yet they have the bravery to still carry on with their lives," says Catchings.
Friday night's Relay was also reminder that many cancers are preventable. Dermatology students at UMC passed out sunscreen. Their professor's message rings loud and clear.
"Absolutely if people would wear their hats, wear their sunscreen and stop going to the tanning parlor, it makes a huge difference in the number of skin cancer cases we see," says Dr. Robert Brodell, UMC's Chief of Dermatology.
And until cancer is a thing of the past, they'll walk for those who won, those who lost and those still fighting the battle.
"Chemo, and through God's grace, I'm a survivor," says Sulton.
"It means a lot," agrees Powell. "Celebrating life all over again."
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