Relay for Life is an overnight fundraising event to increase awareness and funding for cancer research. An evening of progress and hope, Relay for Life celebrates survivors, remembers loved ones lost, and helps in the fight against cancer. It is open to teams and volunteers from all towns. Teams camp out and take turns walking around a track all night, making the statement that cancer never sleeps, so neither will those who are pledged to fight it.
The 2013 Relay for Life of Bayonne is being dedicated to Terri Coleman, a local Bayonne cancer survivor. The Luminaria ceremony is being dedicated to Chuck Singer, a member of the Parks Department, who died of cancer last year.
Today, two out of three people diagnosed with cancer survive for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society.
Since about 2005 in Hudson County, the yearly average of people diagnosed with cancer has been just under 1,000. Cancer accounts for slightly less than 500 deaths per year here, a significant decline from several decades ago when a diagnosis was often a death sentence.
Cancer consists of a group of diseases defined by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.
According to Chrissy Andrascik, director of special events at the American Cancer Society, during the last century, the society has led the way in saving lives and creating more birthdays.
“In fact, more than 400 people a day in the U.S. are celebrating birthdays that would have otherwise been lost to the disease,” she said. “We’ve contributed to a 20-percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since the early 1990s. That means we’ve helped save nearly 1.2 million lives during that time. We’ve played a role in nearly every cancer-research breakthrough in recent history. Our work has helped lead to a 50-percent drop in smoking since the 1960s, which has contributed to a drop in overall lung-cancer death rates.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 12 million Americans, who had a history of cancer dating back to January 2008, were still alive in 2012. Some were cancer free, while others still had evidence of cancer and may have been undergoing treatment.
More than 1.6 million new cases are diagnosed nationally each year. Of those cancer sufferers, slightly less than 600,000 are expected to die during the same time frame.
But many more people are surviving. Between 2001 and 2007, 67 percent of cancer patients survived, up from 49 percent from 1975 to 1977.
Much of this success is due to research and the money raised by groups to fund that research. A significant part of that fundraising in Bayonne and in Hudson County has come via the Relay for Life events.
While the event is run by the American Cancer Society, each locale has its own committee that works on various aspects of the event. Bayonne, which originally held the event at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, began its own Relay for Life about five years ago.
Relay groups traditionally gather in a number of communities in Hudson County, including Bayonne, Hoboken, Jersey City, Secaucus, and Union City.
“More than 400 people a day in the U.S. are celebrating birthdays that would have otherwise been lost to the disease.”—Chrissy Andrascik
Anyone can organize a team of walkers, who then goes out and raises money through a variety of means, sometimes holding dine-around events with local eateries. They make signs for sponsors, sell Luminaria bags, and collect donations through the website listed below in support of a particular team.
Both residents and businesses in Bayonne have embraced the event. They are eager to be part of the American Cancer Society’s 100 birthday on May 22 this year, celebrating 100 years of helping people get well, stay well, find cures, and fight back. In honor of this milestone, the Relay for Life of Bayonne wants to make this its best year ever. As announced at the kickoff celebration earlier in the year, it needs to make this year its best ever because every day people are hearing the words, “You have cancer.” People in Hudson County, people in the Bayonne community, are calling on them for help.
“We know from 100 years of saving lives that silence won’t finish this fight—only action will,” said Andrascik. “Our 100th birthday gives us all the opportunity to be as loud and active as possible in the battle to end cancer. Let’s make noise by continuing to ensure lifesaving cancer research gets funded. Let’s get loud by making sure people facing cancer have the help they need, like a free place to stay during treatment and a ride to get there. Let’s amplify our efforts to keep fighting for everyone to have access to quality healthcare, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. We can’t do this alone. To get loud, we need everyone in every community to join us today. Now is the time to finish the fight. Make some noise by taking action now.”
You can register for the 2013 Relay for Life of Bayonne by visiting RelayForLife.org/BayonneNJ and clicking on “Sign up.”
For information about getting involved with Relay for Life of Bayonne, contact Director of Special Events at the American Cancer Society, Chrissy Andrascik at (973) 232-2573 or email Christina.email@example.com
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.