Rocky Harrison is a cancer survivor four times over.

His first diagnosis, squamous cell carcinoma, inside his ear canal, was only the second case of its kind that the hospital in Chapel Hill had ever seen at that time, said his wife, Mary.

"It was considered skin cancer but it was also considered head and neck cancer," she said.

His caregiver throughout, she kept up with the medical details, her husband of 36 years said.

"He had breast cancer in 2009, then skin cancer on the outer ear and nose. That's when they took his ear off," she said.

"Including the eardrum," Rocky said, noting that it had affected his hearing.

The last diagnosis was in 2016, myofibrosarcoma.

There have been other things in-between, the couple said, but Thursday night as the couple arrived at the Relay for Life survivor banquet, they remained positive.

The annual event is a good reminder of the support this community has for those doing battle with cancer.

"It just shows that people care," Rocky said. "It's a hard deal to go through -- radiation, the chemo and everything, but it shows that everybody's got grit."

These days, he says he's feeling pretty good. He doesn't have quite the same energy, he admitted, which is often a side effect in the aftermath of chemo and radiation.

But he is thankful for the physician he had at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Harold Pillsbury, along with local doctors since.

"Dr. Pillsbury said to me when I was first diagnosed, 'You let me worry about the cancer and you worry about living,'" Rocky said. "I never worried about it.

"Every time they said I had it, I said, 'Let's go.'"

The annual event, for survivors and their caregivers, was held at First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Brenda Robinson, community development manager for the southest region of the American Cancer Society, said it has been going on for probably 20-plus years.

"This is for us to honor and celebrate our survivors and give them a night out to have a free dinner, get a nice T-shirt.

"It's just an opportunity for them to get out, meet other survivors who have gone through that journey."

Delores Sager was also celebrating several years of survivorship.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012, said her husband, Efton Sager.

"I feel good," she said. "I'm doing good."

Debbie Smith is in the medical profession -- staff development at Wayne UNC -- but years before had experience working in oncology, she said.

She had her own diagnosis nine years ago, multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Part of her treatment was two stem cell transplants, she said.

She has celebrated her recovery at the survivor banquet every year but one since she was diagnosed, she said.

"It's a club we don't want to be in," she said. "But to see other people who have survived, it gives you the courage to survive it."

This year's theme is "Carnival for a Cure." The 2018 Relay for Life will again be held at the Wayne County fairgrounds, on Friday, May 18. Gates open to the public at 4 p.m. The opening ceremony will be at 6 p.m., followed by the survivors lap at 6:30, the caregivers lap at 6:45 and the lighting of the "Flame of Hope" at 6:55.

The kids walk will be at 7:30 p.m. and the luminary ceremony is at 9 p.m.