By JOE GORMAN
Cancer survivors are in a unique club. So are those who are battling the disease.
Friday, they got together at the Relay For Life at the Austintown Township Park to help raise funds to find a cure.
This is the 14th year the fundraiser has been in Austintown.
Some survivors said that one of the most-important things Relay For Life does is get together people battling cancer and those who have beat it so they can lend support to each other.
“It’s important for us as individuals to have a good support group. This is one way,” said Marsha Grossman of Austintown, who has survived non-Hodgkins lymphoma. “I got the most comfort from people who were in my shoes.”
Stephanie Derov of Austintown was diagnosed with leukemia 25 years ago when she was just 11. She said as a child, she wasn’t even aware of
how serious the situation was when they told her. But the disease taught her valuable lessons, she said.
“It made me strong,” Derov said. “It made me a fighter. It made me not give up on anything.”
Janel Sletvold of Austintown had breast cancer eight years ago. She said the encouragement the event offers is one of its best strengths.
“It’s encouraging for people who have it now, just to know they’re not alone,” Sletvold said. “And you can be an encourager, also.”
Svetvold said when she was told she had cancer a lot of thoughts were racing around her head, but she was determined to fight because she had children.
“Because I had young children, it made me push forward,” Svetvold said.
Svetvold and Derov both said the most-important thing to do is stay positive.
Grossman said the relay is also important to raise money for cancer research.
“We’re getting the funds to try and get a cure for this awful disease,” Grossman said.
One of the more than 25 teams taking part in raising funds was the team for the Belmont Eye Clinic. Delores Templeman said the team is in its third year of participating in the event, and she said planning for the next event starts almost immediately after the current one wraps up.
She said the work is worth it.
“You find out there are many people in the fight [against cancer],” Templeman said.
The relay ends at 6 p.m. today.