The 20th Santa Clarita Relay for Life, held by the American Cancer Society is coming, and with it comes the opportunity to increase awareness of and funding against the devastating effects of cancer. The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19, and continues until 9 a.m. Sunday, May 20.
“It gives them (cancer survivors) the feeling that the community cares about them, supports them,” says Dr. George Hajjar, a medical oncologist and hematologist at the City of Hope in Santa Clarita. “I do tell my patients about it, and (tell them) ‘I hope to see you there.’”
One of Dr. Hajjar’s patients, Sabrina Robinson, plans on coming to the Relay for Life as a cancer survivor.
“The American Cancer Society itself has helped me with information about my treatments,” said Robinson. “A lot of their online tools and message boards have been really helpful.”
On January 9, 2017, Robinson was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Ten months later, after chemotherapy and surgery, her tumor markers were in normal range. Robinson is now in “maintenance mode,” and no longer has to undergo chemotherapy.
“I have to give my hat off to my team. Between my surgeons and my oncologist and my infusion team,” said Robinson.
The Relay for Life is scheduled to begin with an opening ceremony, honoring everyone who’s been affected by cancer, as well as everyone who has contributed to the success of this year’s relay event.
Next, the relay will begin with a survivor lap, where cancer survivors like Robinson will walk the track while cheered and supported by the audience. This is followed by a caregiver’s lap, where those who have given support to their loved ones fighting cancer will be celebrated. Then the relay begins in earnest.
The relay teams take their places on the track and begin. There is one major rule to the relay: each team must have a member on the track throughout the event, meaning that team members must take turns walking laps through the night. This is meant to symbolize the never-ending battle against cancer.
Additionally, there will be a luminaria ceremony the evening of the event, at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. Each luminaria represents a life, whether a life of someone lost to cancer, a cancer survivor, or to someone still fighting the disease and looking for support. The event ends with a closing ceremony, where participants are encouraged to continue the fight against cancer.
The Relay for Life takes place in Central Park, on 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road. Those interested in attending can find more information at SCVrelay.org.