04/26/13 — Survivors, caregivers share stories at annual Relay for Life banquet

View Archive

Survivors, caregivers share stories at annual Relay for Life banquet

By Renee Carey
Published in News on April 26, 2013 1:46 PM

Nearly 300 people gathered at First Pentecostal Holiness Church Thursday to celebrate cancer warriors, cancer survivors and those who hold their hands along their journey.

The annual Survivors' Banquet featured some of the same standbys that make the event so special every year -- tributes, stories and the master of ceremonies -- Jimmie Ford, who passed out door prizes with the assistance of Relay Princess Blair Sarvis. Ford shared a bit of wisdom and fun -- making the prizewinners "holler" when they claimed their bounty.

The evening began officially with a welcome and opening prayer by the Rev. Jerry Mitchell, the honorary adult co-chairman for this year's Relay, who reminded all those present of the role faith plays not only in a cancer fight, but in life itself.

Also acknowledged, although not present for the event, was honorary young adult/children's co-chairman, Jake May.

Donna Thompson of Southeastern Medical Oncology Center directed the events of the evening, welcoming guests, survivors and caregivers as the Relay for Life team of volunteers made sure there was plenty to eat and plenty of fellowship to share.

As a tribute to the caregivers, Courtney Horton, 37, a breast cancer survivor, introduced her brother-in-law, Trevor Horton, who set a poem she wrote to her husband, Dr. Teague Horton, to music to thank him for his support during her battle.

"He never missed a single, scary appointment," she told the crowd, with tears in her eyes and a catch in her voice.

"You Carried Me," was written not just for Teague, but for all family members and friends who stand by those who are battling cancer, Courtney said.

The food for the event was served and sponsored by members of the Southeast Medical Oncology Center staff, led by Dr. Jim Atkins -- a local oncologist and noted cancer specialist.

He said it was his practice's privilege to be not only the survivors' care providers, but to have the chance to get to know them as people.

"You are all special to us," he said.

Dr. Atkins said that the gathering Thursday in anticipation of the 2013 Relay for Life was particularly important.

The money raised goes for research -- which is the key to putting an end to cancer, he said.

He reminded those present that there are clinical trials going on in Goldsboro right now -- and at other clinics and hospitals around the region.

Those, he said, are the key to finding new, more effective treatments, and, eventually, a cure.

"Research is critical for people to have more birthdays," he said. "Clinical trials represent the cutting edge of treatment."

And, he told the crowd, progress is being made.

But he also told those gathered that faith and hope in the face of fear are still critical parts of a cancer fight.

"Death is not the enemy," he said. "The enemy is not being the person God put you here to be."

The evening also featured a dance by Destiney Anderson and Katlyn Bradford to "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride as well as a moment of silence for those who have lost their battle with cancer.

The evening ended with the traditional last song, "One Moment in Time," performed by Susan Scott of Southeastern Medical Oncology Center.