NORFOLK, VIRGINIA – June 20, 2012 – Anniek Harding thought she was going to die. In 2010, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma and knew little about the disease affecting not only her, but her son, as well. The eight-year old boy and his mother were facing her diagnosis of cancer together, but neither knew what to expect or how to find hope through the experience until Harding called the American Cancer Society.
The local oncology center Harding received treatment at recommended she call the Society and register for Look Good…Feel Better, a free program designed to help women cancer patients improve their appearance and self-image by teaching them hands-on beauty techniques to manage the appearance side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Volunteer beauty professionals lead the program and share practical tips about makeup, skin and nail care, and ways to deal with hair loss, such as with wigs, turbans and scarves.
Harding called the American Cancer Society to register for the program, but she got more than she bargained for when local staff encouraged her to not only sign up for a Look Good…Feel Better session, but also insisted she participate in Relay For Life, the Society’s signature event to raise funds, celebrate cancer survivors and remember those lost to the disease.
“I didn’t know anything about the American Cancer Society, what they offered or how they helped people,” said Harding. “I was amazed to learn about all of the free programs and services the Society provides, in part because of funds raised through Relay For Life.”
Relay For Life events take place nationwide in more than 5,000 communities and in several foreign countries every year. Relays are overnight events, with teams camped out around a track where team members walk all night to raise funds and awareness to fight cancer. Funds raised for Relay For Life help the organization provide patient services and programs at no cost in the community, provide access to other no- and low-cost local resources, provide screening guidelines and educational tools to help people lower their risks for cancer, prevention and early detection, support lifesaving and groundbreaking research, and support legislation to improve the quality of life for those affected by cancer.
Harding registered for Relay For Life that year and asked her friends and family to help her support the American Cancer Society. She sent emails and made requests via Facebook updates. Overnight, she raised $3,000 online. Weeks went by and on the last day of chemotherapy treatment, she celebrated her son’s birthday and participated in her first Relay.
“To see all of the people at Relay and watching the survivors take to the track to walk the first lap, it was incredible,” said Harding. “It was such a moving experience to see everyone come together for the same cause.”
After Relay ended, she wanted to help more and joined the event’s volunteer committee recruiting teams to participate in the following year’s event. Another Relay and more dollars raised to support the Society’s mission. Then in 2012 she became the event’s team development chair.
“Cancer is such a horrific disease and no one wants to see someone diagnosed with it,” said Harding, who has raised more than $5,000 this year for the American Cancer Society. “I want to be an example for others who sign up for Relay For Life. If I’m encouraging them to raise ‘a little bit more’ money, then I need to do the same.”
Harding’s efforts to help the American Cancer Society can be seen at the Relay For Life of Harbor Park in Norfolk on Saturday, June 23, 2012. More than 1,800 people, including several hundred cancer survivors, have registered for the event.
Registration begins at 12 Noon. A survivor’s reception begins at 4:00 p.m. and opening ceremonies, including the first lap led by survivors, begin at 6:00 p.m. The event continues with a luminaria ceremony at 10:00 p.m. and closing remarks on Sunday, June 24th at 8:00 a.m.
To register a team, make a donation or find more information about the event, visit relayforlife.org/harborpark.
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.5 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org. For cancer news in your community, visit sacancernews.org.
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