Walking towards a cure

March 22nd, 2007

Sophomore Natalie Saville can remember as a small child listening to her mom, Nancy, sing in the choir at their local church. But when she was in the 6th grade something happened that halted her mom’s passion —she developed lung cancer.

As Natalie explained, the doctors had scratched her mom’s vocal chords putting tubes down her throat during a treatment. “She would try to sing, but she’d get upset because she couldn’t,” Natalie recalled.

Losing her ability to sing is just one memory that Natalie can vividly recall from her mom’s battle with cancer. But the day that is still fresh in her mind is the day her mom lost her three year battle with the disease.

According to The American Cancer Society, Natalie’s mom was just one of the estimated 1,500 people who die each day from some form of cancer.

But for one night this April, she, along with others who have been affected, will have the opportunity to celebrate life and reflect on how cancer has impacted them.

John Carroll’s Relay for Life, which is being held on Saturday, April 21, is tentatively hosting over 50 teams comprised of Greek Life, student organizations, as well as students and faculty wishing to get involved.

It’s Natalie’s experience however, that motivated the 19 members of the JCU Relay for Life Leadership team to take the initiative in bringing the event to campus.

After three long years of discrepancies, such as noise restrictions, that hindered JCU from hosting the event, senior and Event Co-chair Joel Mullner and other members were finally approved.

Mullner explained that while raising money for cancer awareness is a major goal in hosting the relay, another big priority is expressing the idea that the John Carroll community involves itself with major societal concerns.

Almost every person on the crew has been affected by cancer, igniting a deeper passion to execute the event.

“I’ve been so inspired to hear people’s stories, and this ties into the mission statement by engaging the world. Cancer isn’t just an Ohio or U.S. problem. It’s universal. It does affect everyone and we’re doing a small part to help others,” said Mullner.

So far, senior and Survivorship Chair Maureen Carroll has recruited several students and faculty members who are cancer survivors to participate in the relay. Carroll was quick to express that the relay is a vital event to those who have personally battled cancer and who have been affected by it through a loved one.

By coming together for one cause on one night, people are able to learn and lean on those who have experienced similar situations.

“It communicates that people are concerned collectively as communities about something that affects all facets of people,” said Carroll.

A cancer survivor herself, Carroll explained the personal connection she feels that she has with the event. “This is a very small thing that I can do to give back after all the things people did for me while I was sick,” said Carroll.

She went on by explaining that Relay for Life is an opportunity to give back.

“This is something that offers so much more than financial benefits. When you’ve been affected, you deal with it for the rest of your life.”

There is an expected 1,444,920 people who will contract some form of cancer this year, according to The American Cancer Association.

Although cancer is on the decline from preceding years, The Relay for Life organization continues to have a growing number of participants.

In order to prepare for the event, JCU’s Leadership Team attended Oberlin College’s Relay this past February to gain insight and tips on how to host the event.

Junior and Education Chair Andy Costigan, who lost his mother to lung cancer just a few years ago, said that finally hosting Relay for Life offers hope for the future and closure on the past. “If you’ve been there before, you don’t want anyone else to go through it.”

“Losing my mom was the most difficult experience of my life. You continually deal with it. I am just so different from all of this. It changes you, but you continue to have strength and deal with it,” he said.

For those who have lost a loved one, The relay will be an emotionally satisfying experience that will help sustain many of the feelings caused by cancer.