.LAURINBURG — For cancer survivors at the 21st annual Relay for Life of Scotland County, seeing those who have gone through similar challenges, gives hope.
For Diamonique Christovale and those gathered Friday at Scotland High School’s Pate Stadium, bonding with those who have faced the nightmare of cancer makes the fight easier.
Christovale, a teacher’s assistant at Scotland High School and mother of three, after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2008 was unsure how to tell her kids — in part because she lost both of her parents to cancer.
“When I found out, all I could think about was my three kids,” Christovale said. “My oldest was graduating from Scotland High School and I didn’t know how to tell her.”
However, after being in remission for years and attending Relay for Life every year since beating the disease, she said it is heartwarming “to see everyone — all the survivors. Cancer is a big fight.”
“Cancer is like a ticking bomb. You don’t know if you’re going to make it and fight it, but if you believe that there are doctors out there that can help you and you have family to back you up, then you have faith,” Christovale said, who was diagnosed at 38, near the same age her mother was before passing away from the same disease.
This year, organizers made the theme of the relay “Colors of Hope,” which saw a rainbow of different colors worn by people supporting and raising awareness of multiple cancers —all with a different colored ribbon.
“I feel so awesome. I get overwhelmed when I see everybody and to know that I’m still surviving one more year. It feels just like the first time a did the survivors all at relay. I always believed in faith and the lord that I was going to fight this.”
The six-hour event proved to be inspirational for survivors and caregivers alike, as tears of joy and remembrance filling the smiling faces of those who walked the track from themselves, family members, and friends that have been impacted by cancer.
“I try to inspire other people as we are going through this struggle and try to support other people going through this struggle when you know how they feel,” said Kevin Hunt, who is currently undergoing treatment for stage four lung cancer that was discovered in March.
Hunt joined the ranks of the Scotland County survivors along with friends from all across the state that are a part of The Excelsior League, a group that visits sick children at hospitals in superhero attire to left up their spirits and share hope.
“Someone may be compassionate, but they don’t understand the nightmare cancer can be. When two people bond together, you can inspire them to give them more hope,” Hunt said, who came to the relay dressed as Ben Kenobi from Star Wars.
In addition to boosting the spirits of those impacted by cancer, the event hopes to raise $222,000 for cancer research by the American Cancer Society.
Organizers plan to reveal how much was raised next week.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171