All night relay for cancer survivors

Gillian McAinsh

THE track at Kemsley Park sports ground will be lit up by a flickering host of candles later this week as Nelson Mandela Bay cancer survivors and their loved ones take part in an all-night Relay for Life to celebrate and remember the lives of those affected by the disease.

Westering student Candice Olivier, 19, has walked in the Cansa fundraiser for the past three years, and hopes to take part again on Friday, March 15.

“Cancer has been in my family for a very long time and so many of my family members have died from it,” she said. “I was very little when my grandmother and grandfather died but I remember them as so loving and with soft-hearts, and I wanted to honour them.”

The Varsity College tourism student was at high school at Victoria Park when she lost her second grandfather to cancer. However, when she was only six years old, her grandmother died after battling breast and later bone cancer, and her grandfather followed only a year later, having lost his fight to lung cancer.

Olivier was one of many family members who bought and decorated a “luminaria” bag in tribute to loved ones who had lost the battle, were still fighting or had won their struggle against cancer.

Olivier covered her luminaria with drawings, notes, photographs and other memories of her grandparents, and then returned it to Cansa be filled with sand and a candle on the night.

“It’s a lovely event and I can really recommend it. You go round the track and you read the stories,” said Olivier. “The people who take part are all ages: children, old people, cancer patients who are still in treatment and sometimes even in a wheelchair.”

Olivier was part of the Divas on the Move relay team who walked round the grounds in shifts.

Event co-organiser Salome Clack said Cansa welcomed participants and supporters, and the relay was open to survivors and caregivers.

“Any person who has been diagnosed with cancer – whether they are still receiving treatment or are in remission – is a survivor, we believe that you are a survivor from the very day you are diagnosed,” she said.

“The Cansa Relay For Life is our way of acknowledging, honouring, celebrating and encouraging all cancer survivors.

“We would also like to honour and acknowledge our caregivers,” said Clack, and this group included “anyone who has cared for or is caring for a cancer patient, from the family, to the doctor, pharmacist, nursing staff, spouse or helper”.

Clack is another with a personal connection to the race: “Cansa Relay For Life has helped me to not only come to terms with the loss of my late dad and a dear friend but it has also given me the hope that one day this disease will be beaten”.

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