Cancer survivor fighting for funds
Randy York is no stranger to serious health problems — he battled to beat prostate cancer three years ago and survived a brain abscess aged 16.
The 45-year-old is now taking part in Relay for Life to raise funds for Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre in an attempt to help others to win their fight against the disease.
Mr York said: “It's for people to come together, to support each other, to draw that positive energy to deal with the cancer or their disease as best they can.
“There are also the financial benefits that go towards Bermuda Cancer and Health because without the fundraising, they would not be able to give cancer treatment to people who can't afford it or don't have insurance.”
Mr York added: “It's stressful enough dealing with the disease, but to deal with the financial aspects on top of that is even more devastating.”
Mr York, who will walk with the Bermuda Public Services Union in this year's event, took part for the first time last year as a solo entrant.
He said: “Since I was dealing with cancer myself, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people that were also dealing with cancer.
“Interestingly enough, when I went, there were actually a few people there who I wasn't aware were dealing with cancer.”
Mr York, an information desk assistant at Bermuda National Library, will take part in the survivors' lap and walk again after sunset.
He will also attend the Luminaria Ceremony, in which candles are placed in paper bags to honour survivors and remember those who lost their fight against the disease.
Mr York said: “There are a lot of poetry readings. The only lights illuminating the track are the luminaria bags. It's a very humbling, emotional experience.”
Mr York discovered he had prostate cancer in 2015 after his doctor found a nodule during his annual medical exam — he had missed one or two yearly check-ups.
Tests later showed he had double the normal prostate-specific antigen levels for his age and a biopsy came back positive for cancer.
Specialists pushed him to deal with it immediately but Mr York decided to go against their advice.
He explained: “I was researching to see the treatments out there and then I wanted to be mentally prepared for the treatment I wanted to go for.”
Mr York developed blood poisoning after a second biopsy in September 2016 and took it as a sign to deal with the cancer.
The tumour was removed in Boston in March 2017 and he was released from hospital the next day.
He returned to Bermuda about two weeks later and has been doing well since.
The cancer has not spread and he goes for regular check-ups.
Mr York explained that it was not his first health scare — a brain abscess in his teenage years almost killed him.
He said: “It was touch and go for me. I actually had to learn to walk again because I had been off my feet as my body was so weak.
“I had to go to physiotherapy and my left side was paralysed for a short while. Then everything went back to normal.”
Mr York added: “When I found out I had cancer, I had a feeling that I was going to be all right. I accepted it.
“It's about accepting what has been dealt to you and just trying to proceed forward from there and remain positive.”
Mr York also emphasised the importance of annual health checks for men and a prostate exam at 40.
He added: “If you have a history in your family, you should be checked before 40. And you have to go every year.”
Mr York said his doctor believed he had the cancer since he was 40.
He added: “That shows the importance of getting checked.”
Relay for Life returns
Cancer survivors and those who lost their lives to the disease will be honoured this week as Relay for Life returns for a fifth year.
The 24-hour walking fundraiser for Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre will kick off with an opening ceremony and survivor's lap, followed by the Luminaria Ceremony after sunset.
The Luminaria Ceremony, sponsored by professional services firm PwC Bermuda, will see volunteers place hundreds of lit luminaria bags around the track as participants walk in silence.
Sheena Young, PwC Relay for Life Team Captain and committee member, said: “The Luminaria Ceremony is an important part of the Relay for Life, serving as a poignant reminder.”
Arts and craft supplies will also be available at two tents for families to decorate and personalise their luminaria.
Other items for sale will include reef-safe, non-toxic sunscreen, fresh fruit and a glow in the dark nail polish station.
Relay for Life starts at 6.30pm tomorrow at the North Field of the Bermuda National Sports Centre.
For more information, visit www.bermudarelay.com
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