News Local

Relay for Life coming to Pembroke in 2018

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
Renfrew County Relay for Life will be held in Pembroke next June. Here Lana Gorr, community engagement specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office (left) joins 2018 Relay for Life Honourary Survivor Susan Hanniman and event chairwoman Cindy Giroux (right).

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Renfrew County Relay for Life will be held in Pembroke next June. Here Lana Gorr, community engagement specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office (left) joins 2018 Relay for Life Honourary Survivor Susan Hanniman and event chairwoman Cindy Giroux (right).

 

Although it will shorter, next year’s Renfrew County Relay for Life promises to be larger with the amalgamation of the Petawawa and Beachburg relays at the Pembroke Memorial Centre.

Organizers are planning for a six-hour event under the rooftop of the PMC on Friday, June 22. The signature event for the Cancer Society, the Relay has collected more than $4 million over the past 17 years.

Event chairwoman Cindy Giroux said that moving the venue to the more centrally located PMC will hopefully attract more participants and bring new aspects to the relay.

“We’re going to bring some new blood in and have an amazing event,” said Giroux.

The relay sees participants taking turns walking, running or strolling around the track. Next year's relay will continue the poignant traditions of the Survivors Lap and the Luminary Ceremony which will take place later in the evening. Each luminary bag bears the name of a cancer survivor or someone who has lost the battle with cancer. Giroux added she saw the luminary indoors at this year’s Beachburg relay and it was quite special.

“The impact of the luminaries in the dark inside is something I had never seen before,” she said.

Lana Gorr, community engagement specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office, said the event will be held for six hours in the evening of June 22 beginning at 6 p.m. Their goal is to raise $150,000.

“We are hoping for more participants, more dollars raised and more survivors,” she said.

The 2018 Relay for Life Honourary Survivor will be Susan Hanniman, a Pembroke resident who was diagnosed with the Philadelphia chromosome, a form of leukemia, in November 2015. Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a relatively uncommon disease, however, it accounts for about one quarter of adult cases of ALL.

“I was in the best shape of my life and then this happened,” recounted Hanniman. “It took doctors a while to figure it out. Symptoms changed every couple of days.”

She underwent a successful bone marrow transplant in April 2016. Although doctors consider her cancer free, Hanniman still needs to go back for check-ups every three months. She had qualms about accepting the honourary survivor role as it is still fairly recent, however, she believes Relay for Life is an important to celebrate survival and a place where those affected by the disease can draw strength from others living out the same experience. Hanniman has since returned to her job as a school attendance counsellor with the Renfrew County Catholic School Board

“I’m still working,” she insisted. “I couldn’t let the disease decide for me. I’m going to decide when I am going to retire.”

For more information, contact the Renfrew County Community Office at 613-735-2571. You can pick up registration forms now at the office at 467 Pembroke Street West in Pembroke, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SChase@postmedia.com