The 20 members of Templemore’s Relay for Life team are busy preparing for this year’s event which takes place on August 25/26 in St Michael’s Park, Toomevara.
Relay for Life is a major event aimed at generating a community-wide response to the issues of cancer. Marian Keely and Clare Bohan, who took part in last year’s Relay say that it was an amazing experience. “It brought together people from all over the county whose lives had been touched in some way by cancer – and that is nearly everybody. It was also really heartening to see so many survivors walking the track and celebrating their lives; in a sense we were all celebrating their lives”. Indeed, celebration of those who have survived cancer is one of the three main themes of Relay. Another is remembering those who did not survive the disease. Both these themes are incorporated in the Candle of Hope ceremony which takes place just as darkness is descending. Thousands of candles in paper bags, each with a message celebrating someone who has survived or remembering someone who has passed away, are lit and placed around the track where they remain lighting, guiding the walkers throughout the night. The symbolism of the 24-hour relay walk, which is the heart of Relay, reflects the fact that for the cancer sufferer, cancer never sleeps.
The third theme of Relay for Life is to fight back. Thus, Relay represents a community effort to fight back against cancer. Team captain Dan Condren says this is done in two ways, by raising awareness of all issues in relation to cancer, including prevention, and in raising funds to provide better services for cancer sufferers and for research. About two thirds of the funds raised are spent in Co Tipperary with the remainder going for cancer research. And the Tipperary Relay committee this year are hoping to increase awareness in the county of bowel cancer which is one of the most common forms of cancer, and is one of the deadliest because it is often diagnosed too late, and skin cancer which is very common but is in many cases preventable. Information about these and other cancers is available from the Irish Cancer Society free phone, 1800 200 700, or at www.cancer.ie/cancerinfo .
Asked where the team’s name came from, Dan says “it certainly wasn’t my idea – some my ‘friends’ chose the name to annoy me! But, it will do”. So far, the team has raised almost €2,000 mostly through a very successful table quiz and by selling candles of hope, and they hope to raise a good bit more. Anybody who wishes to help can contact Marian Keely, Anne Marie Johnston or any team member.