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Teaming up to conquer cancer

Queen’s Relay for Life event raises funds to fight cancer.

In an effort to honour those lost to cancer and those who are still fighting, Queen’s Relay for Life (QRFL) is hosting its annual event at the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre.

The event runs on March 11, starting at 7 pm, and QRFL is dedicating the luminary ceremony to first-year student Carley Elle Allison, who died of double lung cancer on March 31, 2015.

“I will be sharing my memories of Carley and my time alongside her,” says Carley’s boyfriend Ioannis (John) Servinis (Artsci’17). “Carley fought through many adversities, from which she inspired and touched the hearts of many.”

On the organizing team are: (l to r, back row): Anna Ploeg (Ceremonies), Christine Leung (Marketing), Lauren Wininger (Digital Media), Melanie Wightman (Co-President), Emma MacLean (Entertainment), Aleksandra Velickovic (Sponsorship), Nettie Robertson (Fundraising), Brianna Poirier (Registration). Front row: Cesur Kavaslar (Recruitment for Volunteers and Survivors), Mathieu Crupi (Co-President), Aaron Lin (Recruitment for Residences), Michael Hassar (Finance).

The event is a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, an organization that supports investigators at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. Participants have the option of participating in a six or 12 hour relay. At midnight, the track will be outlined with luminaries for loved ones.

“This overnight experience gives hope to community members who have been affected directly or indirectly by cancer,” says Anna Ploeg (Artsci’19), Ceremonies Chair, QRFL. “Participants will hear stories from those who battle cancer – survivors, researchers and supporters.”

At the event, teams will participate in fun activities, including Zumba, dodgeball, a Jello-eating contest, Harry Potter trivia, and more. While one team member walks the track with a relay baton in hand, the others can enjoy some of the activities.

“The batons have been added this year to symbolize the teamwork required to conquer cancer,” says Emma MacLean (ConEd’17), Entertainment Chair, QRFL. “Every year, I look forward the most to the first lap of the track. The initial lap of relay is led by cancer survivors. It is an emotional and powerful celebration.”

Two weeks after her sixth birthday, Ms. MacLean was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer that now has a survival rate of approximately 90 per cent, due to years of research and financial investments. “I went through two and a half years of intense treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but in the end my story had a happy ending.”

At the age of three, Ms. Ploeg was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. “The tumour was the size of an ostrich egg and ate the left adrenal gland of my kidney,” says Ms. Ploeg. Fortunately, doctors were able to surgically remove the tumour from her body, and she has been cancer-free for 15 years. “The support system that the Canadian Cancer Society offers for cancer patients is outstanding, and working to help make the Queen’s Relay For Life event come to life is such a pleasure,” says the Ceremonies Chair for QRFL.

Under the leadership of co-presidents Melanie Wightman (Sc’16) and Mathieu Crupi (PhD candidate), a QRFL organizing committee was formed in October. The committee, including Ms. Ploeg and Ms. MacLean, has organized two fundraising events per month and several awareness campaigns across campus.

Individuals from the Queen’s and Kingston community can donate and register for Queen’s Relay For Life on the website. Every participant registered for QRFL this year will receive the chance to win tickets to see Hedley, Carly Rae Jepson and Francesco Yates in concert.