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Relay for Life returns to celebrate survivors

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Relay for Life: First Lap at the Flora Duffy Stadium. Pictured- Coral Beats Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Relay for Life made an incredible return to the National Sports Centre after two years of virtual fundraising.

Hundreds of people physically turned out at the event, which raises money for Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, to honour those who have been touched by cancer.

The event opened with a “survivors’ lap”, where cancer survivors walked a full lap of the track at the Flora Duffy Stadium led by drum group Coral Beats Bermuda Brazilian Percussion. They were followed by other groups or fundraisers, family members and supporters.

Relay for Life: First Lap at the Flora Duffy Stadium. Pictured- Nigel Richardson, Bermuda's Relay for Life 2022 Global Hero of Hope. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A touching display where paper lanterns are lit around the stadium in memory of those lost to cancer planned for sundown.

Nigel Richardson, Global Hero of Hope for 2022 representing Bermuda, helped kick the event off. He said: “I am 11 years cancer free and I have been promoting cancer prevention especially in men. You will find that women will talk about their health issues more and go to the doctor, but men, especially Black men, they don’t go to the doctor and sometimes, by the time they do go, it is too late. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer early at the tender age of 39 so for me it was to educate myself and try to get out there to all the men and get the message out there.

“Because I caught it early, I didn't have to do any secondary treatment – no radiation or chemo. This event is really important because cancer affects everybody, everyone knows someone who has been through that path so we need to raise awareness in the younger children. Some of these cancers are preventable if they are detected early enough they can be treated and you can live a good life.”

This year, the event has been cut from the regular 24 hours to 18 hours with members of the community spending the whole night at the grounds – the slogan being “cancer never sleeps”. Relay for Life is due to end at noon today. There will be games, vendors and entertainment scheduled to continue throughout the day.

Robin Tota, centre, with her sister Dionne Tota, left, and mother Cora Tota, right (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Robin Tota was participating in the survivors’ lap. She found out she had stage four in November. “I started chemotherapy in December and when I started treatment I was in a wheelchair. Now I am walking,” she said proudly.

“I think a lot of it has to do with prayer and treatment. Treatment is not easy, my hands and feet are killing me – it takes a lot out of me. I have a tumour in my stomach, I have cancer in my colon and in my liver, it was already at an aggressive stage when I found out. I don’t drink, smoke and it's not in my family line but this is the way it is.

“It is a little overwhelming for me, when the event first started I started to cry. Now, because of this diagnosis, Relay for Life means a little bit more.”

Ellsworth Smith, a senior who recovered from prostate cancer, and his wife Johnette Smith (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Also on the survivors’ lap was Ellsworth Smith, a senior who combated prostate cancer. He received treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“I am going to get a medical next week but as far as the doctor is concerned I am good, I am clear. I was diagnosed in 2015 and I had an operation which cleared it up. Basically I feel good. I work out and do cycling about four times a week.

“This event makes me feel uplifted.”

His wife, Johnette Smith, was there for her husband as well as her sister-in-law, Marshia Smith, who died of cancer in 2019. She said: “Marshia looked after children and was very lively. She loved life and loved her family, she has been a great miss.”

A total of 97 per cent of funds raised at Relay for Life stay in Bermuda funding equal access to early cancer detection and radiation therapy, while 3 per cent of the funds go towards the American Cancer Society's Global Relay For Life initiatives.

Relay for Life: First Lap at the Flora Duffy Stadium. Pictured are Coral Beats Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 14, 2022 at 7:31 am (Updated May 14, 2022 at 7:31 am)

Relay for Life returns to celebrate survivors

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