July 30, 2008

Relay for Life in Rochester, Minn., Provides Dose of Hope for Cancer Victims

By Heather J. Carlson, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

Jul. 29--Ask brain cancer survivor Sue Hruska the key to battling a terminal diagnosis and the Rochester woman says one thing is critical: hope.

"Those of us with cancer can endure the mouth sores and the body rashes and the nausea and the losing hair, but just give us hope," she said.

And that is exactly what Hruska and hundreds of others experienced at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The annual event gives survivors, caregivers and supporters the chance to raise money for cancer research and education.

About 700 people registered for the all-night July 11 event at University Center Rochester, said Ross Messick, American Cancer Society spokesman. Late night storms forced organizers to move the relay inside the UCR Field House, but the nasty weather failed to dampen spirits of the participants.

The celebration featured live music, an inflatable slide for children and plenty of food. The Relay for Life also is a chance to remember all those who have faced cancer with glowing luminaries. Unable to use candles indoors, organizers improvised and used glow sticks.

In total, this year's Olmsted County Relay for Life netted $165,000 in donations, Messick said. He added that the American Cancer Society is hoping to organize another event outdoors to light the luminaries.

Every year, the relay kicks off with cancer survivors walking the first lap. As this year's honorary chair, Hruska led the more than 125 survivors around the indoor track.

"It was very emotional, emotional lap because people are cheering you on as you are walking," she said, "And yeah, I was in the front of line, but I couldn't help but think of all of us that have lived to experience something that we didn't know we would be able to."


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