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Surviving together: Digby Relay for Life celebrates courage and community

Darlene D'Eon (left) says she gets comfort and healing from celebrating the Relay for Life with friends and fellow survivors Alma Taylor (center) and Gail Harding (right) pictured here at the 2016 relay in Digby.
Darlene D'Eon (left) says she gets comfort and healing from celebrating the Relay for Life with friends and fellow survivors Alma Taylor (center) and Gail Harding (right) pictured here at the 2016 relay in Digby. - Karla Kelly

DIGBY, N.S. – Darlene D’Eon, a seven-year cancer survivor in Digby, says her favourite part of the Relay for Life is the togetherness and camaraderie.

“It is healing for me – my friend Gail and I walk that survivor lap together, it’s emotional, to see my family and friends there, cheering me on, people who supported me, it’s impressive,” she says.

The Relay for Life is the main fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. In Digby, and in over 400 other communities across Canada, team members take turns carrying a baton and walking laps. While most people participate as part of a fundraising team, the relay also serves to celebrate the courage of those living with and surviving cancer.

Darlene is grateful that her cancer was relatively light.

“I had surgery, I recovered from surgery that was it, but it’s still scary, if you’ve ever heard anyone tell you you have cancer, it’s the uncertainty, it’s the not knowing, it’s scary,” she says. “That was seven years ago and it’s still emotional for me.”

She says the relay helps.

Survivors receive a yellow t-shirt and attend a free dinner together before kicking off the relay with a Survivor Lap.

“I love it,” says D’Eon. “Every time I always say, I can’t believe I’m wearing this yellow shirt – it’s not great to have cancer, but if I had to have cancer, at least I can be a cancer survivor in a yellow shirt.”

D’Eon says walking the survivor lap with all those supporters looking on and all the others in yellow shirts makes you realize you’re not alone.

The Digby Relay started in 2006 and has raised over $500,000. D’Eon has been disappointed the last few years to see fewer and fewer people at the relay, especially those in yellow shirts.

“I try to encourage all the survivors I know to participate, it is just so wonderful,” she says. “Some people says it is too emotional, they don’t want to cry any more, but for me, I don’t mind crying. I'm thankful to be alive and have these emotions.”

The first relay in Canada was 1999 and so far the event has raised over $500 million nationally. The Digby Relay for Life takes place in June.

Anyone interested in learning more about participating as a survivor can contact Jo Trudel at 902-340-2006 or check out the Digby Relay For Life Facebook page.

THINGS TO KNOW.....

Digby Relay for Life 2018
When: June 16
Time: 6 p.m. to midnight
Where: Digby Arena
Survivor Chair:
Jo Trudel
Phone: 902-340-2006
Email: jotrudel67@gmail.com

(STORY WRITTEN BY JONATHAN RILEY)

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