2010 Sponsors

We would like to take a moment to sincerely thank some of this year’s sponsors. We could not put on our event with their generous support and contributions!

AXO

Beta/DZ

Order of Omega

Red’s Tavern

Tri Delta/Fiji

Tritt Family Foundation

UGA Bookstore

Survivor Spotlight: Kati Moss

My name is Kati Moss and I am blessed to say that I am a five year cancer survivor! Shortly after turning fourteen years old I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After four rounds of Chemo and the grace of God I was cured. My journey taught me many valuable life lessons, and ultimately about God’s will. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in certain situations but I now know that everything happens for a reason. Instead of questioning why things happen I now put my faith in God and trust him to take care of me. God blessed me in so many ways through my journey. He surrounded me with a loving community and the best friends and family I could ever ask for. The physical experience of cancer was horrendous; I can’t even begin to tell you all the health issues I faced. However, the spiritual experience was life changing. I’ve never felt so close to God or my family and friends. My focus was taken off of worldly things and put on my relationships. Sometimes we tend to focus more on what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have. I am from Rome, Georgia. My parents are my heroes, Mike and Susan Moss, and my older sister Dani is the best friend I could ever ask for. I don’t know where I would be today without their love and support. My sickness definitely made a huge impact on our family but ultimately did nothing but made us grow closer and stronger. I am currently a freshman and an art major at UGA, I plan to major in interior design. I enjoy dancing, anything to do with design, going out with my friends, attending the Church at Northside, and spending quality time with my family! I would like to encourage everyone to live their lives to the fullest, never taking any moment for granted!

Survivor Spotlight: Isaac de Valle

On March 1, 2006, Isaac was diagnosed with ALL-Tcell leukemia.  Because of his age, diagnosis and initial response to chemo he was classified as a high risk for relapse.  He immediately began his 3 ½ year treatment protocol.  It consisted of one year of intense chemo and 2 ½ years of maintenance chemo. He was 10 years old at the time and in the middle of fourth grade.

Isaac journaled his cancer experience with a program through the AFLAC clinic called Beads of Courage.  With each procedure or milestone during his treatment he got a special bead.  These beads are not given our lightly.  You earn a bead for such things as bone marrow biopsies, chemo infusions, hair loss, trips to the ER, tube placements, dialysis, ect…

To date, Isaac has earned 854 beads – 646 of them in his first year of treatment. His collection contains 4 beads for bone marrow biopsies, 24 beads for spinal taps, 150 beads for chemo drugs and infusions, 2 beads for each time he lost his hair, 205 beads for IV starts, blood draws, injections and port accesses, 17 beads for emergency room trips, 37 beads for sleepovers at the hospital, 10 glow in the dark beads for radiation treatments, 14 beads for MRIs, CAT scans and X-rays, 49 beads for round the clock antibiotic infusions when he had no immune system to fight off infections, 35 beads for blood product transfusions, 3 beads for surgeries – and ONE PURPLE HEARD BEAD he received June 22, 2009 FOR THE COMPLETION OF THERAPY.!!!

Today, Isaac is 14 years old and in 8th grade. He is 9 months off therapy and 11 months away from being classified as a survivor! His favorite subjects in school are math and science. His passions are collecting baseball cards, golf and the Atlanta Braves.  He is a huge Georgia Tech fan – his room and most of his wardrobe is GT colors. He also has a fascination with World War II that shows up in his choice of movies and books. He has two sisters Adriana, an active UGA freshman and Vanessa, a UGA alum.

Survivor Spotlight: Brinley Thomas

This crazy journey began on March 11, 2009. We took Brinley to the doctor due to some funny grunting noises. We were admitted to the hospital where they diagnosed her with pneumonia. After a week with no improvement, our doctor referred us to a pulminologist in Atlanta. She informed us that Brinley’s pneumonia wasn’t pneumonia at all. She said that it was a mass and that we needed to have further testing. Two CT scans, 1 MRI, a dozen or so x-rays and two surgeries later, we were diagnosed with cancer on April 20, 2009. Her last round of chemo was September 30, 2009, and she entered remission in October 2009.

Survivor Spotlight: Jennifer Gonyea

2008 was a great year. My husband and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary, I accepted a full time faculty position here at the University of Georgi, and after 5 long years, we adopted our sweet baby girl.

Three days after my daughter turned 4 months old, she rolled over for the first time.  I was on the floor clapping and praising her when my phone rang. While I shared this milestone with the caller, Abby rolled over a second time. And I laughed and clapped and praised her some more.  That was when my doctor took a deep breath and told me that the biopsies of both my breast and lymphnodes were positive. That morning, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. I was 34 years old, a new mom with a new job starting in 2 weeks, and I had no family history of cancer.  Later that day, I learned that my cancer was Estrogen & Progesterone positive, meaning that my own hormones were

food to my cancer cells.  I also learned that the number they use to measure how fast the cancer cells are dividing was off the charts.  Ten days after my daughter rolled over for the very first time, I had my first chemotherapy treatment.

I have always thought that everything happens for a reason and although that belief has been tested since my diagnosis, I still believe that. Abby chose that morning and that moment to roll over so that it would be fresh in my mind all of the wonderful moments I had to fight for and all of the reasons I couldn’t take the diagnosis lying down.  Later that day, I told my husband, “I am not done yet. I have so many other thi

ngs I need to do, that I know I am not done.”  It was in that moment that I knew I had to kick cancer’s butt.  So, when I met the oncologist for the first time I told him, “We’d better get this right because I am not going to lose and I am not doing this a second time!”  I might admit to a few tears that day, but after I met with all my doctors I felt a lot better. I could focus on our plan for treatment instead of the what-ifs, the negatives.

I didn’t have a choice about having breast cancer, I didn’t have a choice about the side effects of treatment, and I didn’t have a choice about the time this disease took away from my family. But I did have a choice in how I handled it.  The funny thing about being newly diagnosed is that everyone focuses on your hair. The medical people tell you ‘You know you’re going to lose hair, right?”  And others asked if or when I was go

ing to lose my hair.  At the time, I thought “Why the heck does that matter, I have bigger things to worry about!”  But now I understand that my hair falling out was the visible reminder to everyone around me that I was sick, that I had a disease that kills people, and their way of dealing with it was to focus on my hair. So, I decided to show everyone how I had chosen to deal with my cancer. I had a party. I realize that sounds strange, but I had a Head Shaving Party. We had a cookout with our family and friends, ate and laughed.  Seven of my guests shaved their heads in honor of my battle with cancer. Then each person at the party got to chop a braid off my head brandishing it like a trophy before we shaved the rest of my hair.  We capped off the evening with a hat and wig fashion show so they could help me pick out my new hair.  I had a great time with the wigs. I had a blonde, a brunette, and a red one of all different styles, so my students never knew what I would look like when I walked into class. I even got a hot pink wig to wear in October during breast cancer awareness month. I got a standing ovation the day I walked into class with that one on.

You may not know this, but humor kills cancer cells. Ok, it might not be science, but I’m pretty sure it is why I did so well with treatment.  As a birthday present, my 7 year old nephew had made me a cap. They let him decorate it himself and although they tried to discourage him, he decorated it with skulls & crossbones and it looked like a Mr. Yuck sticker.  Apparently that is too cool to a 7 year old.  I decided that it was my new hat to wear during chemo. I figured if they were trying to poison me, I might as well look the part! My other favorite costume during chemo was my pink cape.  My friend bought it for me to remind me that I was Superwoman and could do anything.  I would walk around the treatment area hooked up to my IV with my pink cape floating behind me, reminding myself and everyone else how strong we are.  So imagine a bald me, with a Mr. Yuck biker cap and a pink Superwoman cape.  As you can imagine I was very popular in the chemo room!

I chose to attack my cancer as aggressively as it was attacking me.  I was hit with huge doses of chemo and 37 rounds of radiation.  I could have opted for a lumpectomy, but instead chose a double mastectomy with lymphnode dissection.  When I asked about the reduction in the risk of recurrence with a double mastectomy as opposed to a lumpectomy, I was told it would reduce my risk of recurrence by 95%. Now, no doctor is EVER going to tell you 100% on anything, so I figured 95% was about as good as it would get. That made it an easy decision. I didn’t want my husband and daughter’s lives to be any more interrupted than it had already been.

I understand now why cancer awareness and fundraising events like Relay for Life are endurance events.  Battling cancer is an endurance event for the patient and anyone that loves them.  There were days that I had to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other to get out of bed or get to work.  But I did it. I worked on my laptop during chemo, I walked from campus parking to my office because they told me it would battle the chemo fatigue, I switched to flats when the neuropathy in my feet made walking painful. It would have been easy for me to put my life on hold while I battled the cancer, but I wasn’t about to let anything, even cancer, alter my plans or affect my family’s life. I continued to teach four classes that semester and make administrative decisions about our undergraduate curriculum. I didn’t ask for classes to be reassigned, I didn’t ask for extra days off. My eyes welled up with tears when I told my department head about the diagnosis because, at the time I felt like I made a commitment I couldn’t follow through. It would be easy for those participating in the Relay to go home and watch a movie or hang out with friends, but they aren’t. They have made the commitment to battling cancer and by participating in this event they will be, at times literally, putting one foot in front of the other, just like patients who are fighting the disease.

Survivor Spotlight: Jewell Hardaway

In May, 2007, I went to Cairo, Ga. to visit my mother for Mother’s Day.  She fell that Friday and was in the hospital several days.  She died on Wednesday of complications from the fall and conjestive heart failure.

During that time I stayed with her  in the hospital a lot.  I didn’t feel well.  I tell you this about my mother because she had cancer 4 times and suvived them all.  I found out 2 weeks later that I had ovarian cancer.  I was glad she did not know this.

My symptoms were lower back pain and lower adboman pain. Dr. Boling ordered the CA125 blood test and a CT Scan and both were positive.  Surgery was scheduled for June.  Dr. Benigno did the surgery.  I got along real well.  I took low dosages of carboplatin and taxol for 16 weeks.  I lost my hair.  I wore wigs – they were great.

I tried to be positive through this as my mother had been through all of hers.  I had a great support group of friends and family.  I feel this is so important.  Do not try to go it alone!!

As for hobbies and interest - Harry and I snow ski, travel and are active in our church.  I have recently started a quilting class.  We have 5 grandchildren and live near them.  We are blessed.

I thank you and Relay For Life for all you do to support cancer research.

SBX-Round 2!

Who says Spring Break has to end?

In fact, let’s face it: Not everybody can have the ideal Spring Break. Circumstances are always different.

Relay understands. Relay is here for you.

We know what you’re thinking, “How can a giant on-campus organization interpret and understand my innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires?” Two words: Airplane Tickets. We have them, and we’re giving them to you.

Bodacious, we know, but how to you get them? Simple, there’s two ways!

1. The person who raises the most money online between March 14 and March 31 will win an AirTran round-trip ticket to anywhere in the US.

2. Alternatively, each donation made online in your name between those same dates will enter you in a drawing for…wait for it…a round trip AirTran ticket anywhere in the US!

Help us fight cancer, and win yourself SBX-Part TWO. Start today by sending out donation emails from your participation center at RelayForLife.org/UGA!

NOTE: You will not be flying on a private jet, and thus Relay can not and will not be held responsible for any crying babies, intrusive body odor, or obnoxious sleeping habits you may encounter in transit.

Survivor Spotlight: 7 year old-Mary Evelyn King

My daughter Mary Evelyn is a happy, sweet seven year old girl who also is fighting cancer for the second time. When she was two years old, she was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor cancer and the leading cause of cancer related deaths among children. Most of the cases of neuroblastoma are stage IV which means the cancer has aggressively spread throughout the body. Mary Evelyn’s treatment included six rounds of chemo, major surgery to remove the tumor, two stem cell transplants (using her own stem cells), radiation and drug therapy. Through it all, many people prayed for her and God showed great mercy to her. Although she suffered a lot of pain and had many tough days, she also played a lot and developed a lot of spunk and resilience.  She always was confident that she would get better. Once she told her grandparents, “don’t worry and don’t cry because I’m going to be OK.”

Mary Evelyn was in remission just before her fourth birthday. It was wonderful news and soon she finished treatment and we started getting back to our normal lives. I donated her extra medical supplies to our vet. Our family shared our story at fund raising events for both Relay for Life and her hospital. Mary Evelyn was proud to say, “I am a cancer survivor!”. She continued to have regular scans at Egleston to be sure the cancer was still gone because neuroblastoma has a very high relapse rate.

Mary Evelyn enjoyed almost four years of remission. During that time, she completed kindergarten and started first grade. She got hearing aids to help with the damage done to her ears from the high dose chemo and started taking thyroid pills to counteract the damage done to her thyroid, but otherwise she was very healthy. Her hair grew back, blonde at first, and she grew tall. Fighting cancer as a young child gave her confidence, courage and compassion which helps her in other areas of her life. She took ballet and gymnastics and learned how to ride her bike. She lived a normal, happy life and we treasured those days because we knew how precious our time with her is.

This past December, her leg started to hurt. She was limping, which is a typical sign of a relapse. We brought her to the ER and they did an x-ray but found nothing consistent with a tumor. A few days later a urine test was done to check for a tumor marker and it was negative. The pain in her leg went away and we celebrated a happy Christmas thinking that she was fine.

In January, the leg pain returned. Once again we had an X-ray done which showed no change from the previous one. Her oncologist ordered scans to be sure.  The scan showed that she had relapsed. The cancer was back in both legs, on her spine and in her bone marrow. My husband and I were devastated. Everyone around us grieved with us, all but Mary Evelyn herself.

When we told Mary Evelyn that she had relapsed, she knew exactly how serious it was. There is no cure for relapsed neuroblastoma as she has heard us tell many audiences at fund raisers. She knew this, yet she was very calm. She processed the news and after several minutes told me,   “I spoke to that cancer and I told it cancer- I beat you once and I can beat you again in the blink of your evil eye!” Mary Evelyn has always shown a beautiful faith in God’s care for her. Countless times she has told me not to worry about her because she is going to be OK. She rests in her faith in God and has shown no grief or fear.

There is no known cure for relapsed neuroblastoma, but there is hope. Since Mary Evelyn was diagnosed the first time in 2005, incredible progress has been made in neuroblastoma research and there is hope for a cure.  It is difficult to find both funding for childhood cancer research and also to find children who live long enough to test the experimental therapies on because there are so few cases.  Even so, neuroblastoma research is one of the most promising fields right now and that gives us hope. We are trusting that God will take care of her no matter what happens, but are doing our part to save her life by trying experimental therapies. She has had two rounds of chemo and the leg pain is gone at least for now. Our plan is to go to Cincinnati for a new therapy which uses radioactive isotopes to kill the cancer cells.  After that, she will continue some kind of therapy possibly for the rest of her life. It is a big unknown for me and that is hard for a mom to deal with.

My husband and I have not had the quiet confidence that Mary Evelyn has. We have tried to set aside our worries by not allowing ourselves to think of the future. Being thankful for our daily bread and not allowing ourselves to worry about things that are not happening yet has helped, but lately we’ve come to a new level of acceptance. We are truly grateful for the blessings of each day and somehow have hope for Mary Evelyn’s future. Our little seven year old is leading the way on how to handle her own relapse by her beautiful trust in God’s mercy and His love for her. Ultimately Mary Evelyn will be fine whatever happens, but I am willing to fight hard to give her a better shot at it here in this life. She says she can beat the cancer again, so I believe she will and we are going to do whatever we can to help her win that battle.

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Stay updated with Mary Evelyn’s story at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maryevelynking.

“50 Days of Relay” has started!

UGA Relay 2010 is now just 50 days away! Each day we will post a new statistic to show you just how much the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life do! For the full calendar, visit https://ugarelay.org/50days!

Let the countdown begin!

Survivor Spotlight: Guillermo Alzuru

My story has been a happy one. I feel like God has been good to me and has appointed my own personal guardian angel. From day one, when I was diagnosed, 12 years ago, I felt like He was taking care of me. I must say that sometimes I struggled with this, because why, then, give it to me in the first place. After all these years I’ve learned to believe that either a) He didn’t give it to me, I just got it, or b) He did give it to me because He had a reason, and I wanted to figure it out.

That night of October 20th, 1997, I was sitting in my car in front of the wheel, ready to drive off, when I remembered something and decided to go back to my office, I turned the car off, and went in again. Turned the computer on and sat in my desk for a few minutes. Next thing I know, I’m laying down, on the floor, just waking up. But when my wife asked me later that night, I didn’t remember getting ready to fall sleep, so something must be very wrong with me, she said.

That started my journey; a brain tumor was diagnosed in the right side; two neurosurgeons recommended a biopsy to find out exactly what they were dealing with. At first it was difficult, I thought I was going to die, and I had my moments of fear, like everyone else. I have always been a very religious person but never had prayed so much. But I was confused, wasn’t even sure what to pray for. I wanted to live longer, a lot longer, I wanted to be at my children’s graduation, their weddings, the birth of my grandchildren, I wanted to get healed.

But I wasn’t sure I could do that or that it was the right thing. I thought it may not be humble to pray for health, maybe God was calling me and wanted me to set an example, so I started to pray for strength to go through the illness, to be able to fight and don’t feel sorry for myself, to be able to appear like a normal person even though I was sick. I did visualize all those events in my life and I wanted to be there for my three children, and that helped me a lot, I found more strength that I thought possible I could have in me.

Also, a friend helped me realized that there were people in my life for whom I could set an example. And oddly enough, instead of getting mad at him, I found what he said reasonable, and I liked it, and I embraced it, and then I prayed even more, because that made sense; that’s exactly what option b was. But at the same time, I began developing this strange confidence that I would be healed, that I had faith God could and made me and wanted me to heal, and if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains, right?

Then good thing started to happen, first I went through the treatment–both chemotherapy and radiation–without almost having any bad feelings, like most people, I didn’t even lose my hair, only a little bit where the beam got into my head. Upon finishing the treatment, I started having MRIs every 3 months, and they all looked good; then every 4 months, then 6, and the last time the doctors suggested to go only once a year, something I’m not going to do, I’m too scared to let that much time to pass between MRIs.

The tumor has not forced me make big changes in my life; I work, I do sports, I volunteer in many activities, I go out, I play games, I have hobbies, in short, I’m living a normal life. And I have been neurologically perfect throughout the process, something very important because it makes surgery unnecessary for now, given that the treatment worked and that I have no symptoms whatsoever.

On top of that, the tumor is located in an area of my brain where my strong qualities, like numerical and analytical, aren’t based; instead, it may have affected those that I never had anyway, like creativity and artistic.

After 12 years, I have seen all three of my children graduate from high school and two of them graduate from college, and the youngest is graduating this semester, so with the help of God, I’ll be there in May to hug her and kiss her. By the way, I’m wrting this story the day after she turned 22. And we are all happy. I’m not going to say the tumor has been a blessing but it has made me a better person, someone who appreciates the little things I took for granted: flowers, birds, sunsets, a simple walk; and other not-so-little things we do daily or have but do not appreciate enough: the ability to see and hear, two arms and two legs, the ability to walk, run, and play; a hot shower, three meals a day, a soft bed, air conditioning and heating. And finally, the love of friends and family.