04/25/14 — Survivors all

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Survivors all

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 25, 2014 1:46 PM

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County Commission Chairman Wayne Aycock addresses a crowd of around 500 people during the Relay for Life Survivors Banquet at First Pentecostal Holiness Church Thursday night. Aycock spoke about the loss of his mother and first wife as a result of cancer, his own battle with the disease, and the happiness he found with his second wife, Linda.

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Randolph Augustus, wearing a "caregiver" banner, listens to a musical presentation at the Relay for Life Survivors Banquet. He is the caregiver for his wife, Delores, a 20-year survivor of lung cancer.

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Brenda Newton is tricked into touching her hand to her cheek after being instructed to touch her head during a group activity at the Relay for Life Survivors Banquet. Brenda is the caregiver for her husband, Charles, a six -month survivor.

Roy Mason received his diagnosis just two months ago -- prostate cancer.

He will undergo three dozen radiation treatments.

So far, he has had five.

"I'm feeling all right," he said Thursday night. "I'm just wrung out. I don't have any energy."

"The whole experience makes you tired," added his wife, Kaye.

The Pikeville couple added another first-time experience last night -- attending the annual Wayne County Relay for Life Survivors Banquet. An estimated 500 cancer survivors, caregivers and others still in the trenches fighting the disease turned out for the event, held at The First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

"I enjoyed it," Mason said afterward. "But the reason I enjoyed it is because I look around and I see all these other people that have been in the same spot that I am in."

"You never know what people are dealing with," Mrs. Mason said.

"But the good Lord's going to take care of me," her husband said with a smile.

This is the 20th year for Relay and the banquet, said Brenda Robinson, 2014 Relay co-chairperson. The dinner provides an opportunity to "celebrate survivorship," she said.

"Seeing you all here reinforces what we're all about," she told the audience. "We're saving lives every day. And God is good."

Relay for Life will be held May 16 and 17 at the Wayne County fairgrounds.

"The opening ceremony is 6 p.m. The survivors lap is at 6:30," she said.

This year's theme for the fundraiser to benefit cancer research is "Finishing the Fight."

Anne Guzzetti, a 19-year breast cancer survivor, said she wouldn't miss the annual gathering.

"I have been every year," she said. "It's wonderful because you see so many people. Most of them are people you know."

Jimmie Ford, emcee for the evening's festivities, is also a veteran.

"I'm a cancer survivor. I have been since 1982," he said in his introductory remarks. "I appreciate waking up every morning.

"You need to be positive for the rest of your life because it could be different."

The featured speaker, County Commission Chairman Wayne Aycock, also had his own connection to the survivors.

"My fight with cancer started long before I had cancer," he said. "My first wife of 45 and one-half years was diagnosed with cancer."

She was not as fortunate in her fight, he explained, and passed away. Six months later, his mother died.

"I had a tough year," he said.

Prepared to shelve his thoughts of running for public office in the aftermath, he said he was encouraged by friends to stay in the race. In the midst of all that, though, came his own health scare.

"When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was almost one year to the week when my first wife passed away," he said. "I was fortunate that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Only about one percent of men are diagnosed with breast cancer. But I considered myself blessed because that's one cancer they can deal with."

Aycock had surgery. Three days later, though, doctors told him the margins weren't good enough and he underwent another surgery, and then a third, all within a two-and-one-half-week period.

"It was tough," he said. "I wanted to give up but I had too many people praying for me. So we started a battle with, 'What are we going to do?'

"Six treatments of chemo, 33 treatments of radiation, I went back to Dr. Kaspar and said, 'What's the verdict?' He said, "You're cured. You're going to die. But all of us are going to die.' I'm a blessed man."

While taking his radiation treatments, he met the woman who would become his second wife. Linda had actually lost her husband a short time after Aycock's wife had passed. He said he already knew her brother and soon discovered they had gone to high school together but had not crossed paths in 45-plus years.

The two wed in February 2013.

Having a caregiver in the battle against cancer is priceless, he said, paying tribute to those who were there in support of a loved one.

Whether a friend, relative or spouse, "the doctors, the nurses, they're the reason we're here," he said. "And God. God's guiding them to look after us.

"But at some point we need to have a caregivers' banquet."