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Volunteers going to bat to help cancer victims in their fight

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Volunteers going to bat to help cancer victims in their fight

Marlene Heupel makes her way back to her seat after picking up a prize in front of the audience at Thursday's Manteca Relay for Life community rally at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED March 27, 2009 4:36 a.m.
It would have been easy for Kristen Lance to let her past history with cancer get her down.

After losing three grandparents to cancer, Lance was welcomed into adulthood with the breast cancer diagnosis of her mother before also learning that her mother-in-law was facing advanced lung cancer that would need aggressive treatment.

Rather than just hoping for a positive outcome, Lance took the time to care for both women while she was going to school. Even though she lost her mother-in-law in 2002, she remains optimistic that her mother – who just learned that the cancer she had fought into remission had recently spread into her liver – will be able to keep on battling.

“I’m here because I have a heart that won’t let me forget the pain that this horrible disease has caused my loved ones,” Lance said Thursday at the kick-off rally for Manteca’s upcoming Relay for Life – the 24 hour fundraiser at Sierra High School that starts on May 16. “We must stand up and do something about it.

“I know that for every dollar that is raised that someone, somewhere, will be able to see that dollar used in a very special way.”

Lance was one of several dozen people who turned out at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Thursday to kick off the season of what has become the American Cancer Society’s biggest annual fundraise. The national event has contributed $375 million to the operating budget of the non-profit that strives to educate the public and advocate on behalf of the 1 in 200 people that will hear the words “you have cancer” at some point this year.

Event Chair Holly Halleck kicked off the event Thursday by calling up all cancer survivors in the building to start around the makeshift track for the “survivors lap” before being joined by everybody else in the building for several laps around the outside of the paper bags that are used in the nighttime Luminaria ceremony to pay tribute to those who are either currently battling the disease or have been claimed by it.

She didn’t waste any time in breaking down why the event – which has helped contribute money to fund the research of 42 Nobel laureates that received their recognition for work done in the cancer field – is so important to so many different people.
“It’s phenomenal the strives that they’ve made in fighting this disease,” Halleck said. “It has gone from an automatic death sentence to a disease where you now have a fighting chance.

“We will always remember those who didn’t make it, but we all do what we can now to fight back.”

The Manteca Relay for Life is being held on May 16 and 17 at Sierra High School. For more information contact Registration Chair Betsy White at 239-7174, or Event Chair Holly Halleck at 481-3525. Information can also be obtained by visiting on the World Wide Web.
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