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Crusade against cancer

Queen’s University hosts 13th Relay for Life after reaching $500,000 in fundraising.

The Relay for Life student organizing committee has planned a night of remembrance, hope, and entertainment. (Supplied photo)

It’s no secret that cancer touches nearly everyone, so again this year the student body at Queen’s University is working to fight this disease.

On Friday, March 8, the Kingston community is invited to support the 13th annual Relay For Life at the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

Since 2006, the event has raised more than $500,000 and this year student organizers Anna Ploeg, Kate Gray, and Kaitlin Janes are aiming to surpass the $115,000 raised last year. All money is donated to the Canadian Cancer Society at the end of the evening.

The event starts at 8:30 pm when 21-year-old Dylan Buskermolen will talk about surviving his battle with cancer. The fourth-year politics and global development student was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and fought his battle while in his third year at Queen’s. Now, he’s a passionate supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society.

“There is one thing I want the participants to walk away with after the relay,” Buskermolen says. “Every single cog in the wheel matters, whether you’re volunteering, fundraising, or even being there for someone you know going through treatment or just a really hard time with school, it’s appreciated, and it is so incredibly important. Because no matter how difficult it was to walk back into the hospital for treatments, knowing that I was walking in with the amazing people who walked me in and the incredibly strong people who were sitting beside me allowed me to get knocked down over and over again, and just keep getting back up.”

After the opening, cancer survivors will be invited to walk the track during the Survivors’ Victory Lap in a celebration of success. At midnight, a luminary ceremony will be held to remember everyone who lost their battle.

“The event mimics the journey of a cancer patient,” Janes says. “The journey starts a little bleak but, little by little, you gain hope. You meet others on your journey and share stories. Making it to the end symbolizes hope for the future.”

Ploeg knows a little about surviving cancer, which is one of the main reasons she’s involved. At the age of three, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. The tumour was the size of an ostrich egg and destroyed the left adrenal gland of her kidney. Luckily, doctors were able to remove the tumour and she was cancer-free until 2016 when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“It was my second battle but I beat it,” she says. “I’m now cancer-free. I credit research with the fact that my cancer was so treatable.”

In order to keep everyone entertained and motivated, the organizers have planned an entire evening of entertainment. There will be a talent show, an inflatable jousting arena, an escape room, Minute-To-Win-It games and plenty of other fun activities. There will also be plenty of food to keep everyone motivated.

“We are calling this a party with a purpose,” Gray says.

For more information or to get involved visit the website or the Queen’s Relay For Life Facebook page.