Survivor sisters join others in county’s first event of 2012

By Elise Franco


A pair of sisters beat the odds three times and took their place among the cancer survivors at the 10th annual Relay for Life of Youngstown.

Violet Stinedurf, 69, of Howland, and Helen Emery, 64, of Bristolville, both were diagnosed with breast cancer — Stinedurf in 2009 and Emery in 1997 and again in 2003.

Emery said that although her first diagnosis was frightening, it was much worse the second time.

“The first time I survived, I thought I was lucky,” she said. “The second time, I was really worried about the odds.”

She was cancer-free a year later but still makes annual doctor’s visits.

Stinedurf said her cancer wasn’t as advanced as her sister’s, but it wasn’t any less of a serious matter.

“The word ‘cancer’ right away makes you think death,” she said. “But you just have to keep a good outlook on life. If you sit around and let yourself get depressed, it’s just not good.”

The sisters said they walk in about four relays each year, with the event at Youngstown State University being the inaugural relay in Mahoning County.

The event, in its nine previous years, raised more than $500,000 for cancer awareness and research, said 2012 chairman Tod Crowe.

Crowe said this year’s goal is $50,000.

The 18-hour-long event will run through noon today at YSU’s Beeghly Center. The proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society to benefit cancer research.

“This relay is to bring awareness to the issues of cancer because it’s an ongoing battle,” he said. “We’re gaining ground on it, but it’s not going to end for a long time.”

Crowe said one main purpose of the Relay for Life is to honor the survivors, as well as those who lost the battle, with a luminary ceremony.

“It’s $10 to have a person’s name placed on a candle in honor or in memory of someone,” he said. “When you go out on the south end of the Beeghly Center and see all those names lit up, it’s the most sobering moment.”

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