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Walking the walk in Rocklin

Cancer survivor has new perspective on Relay for Life
By: Kurt Johnson Special to The Placer Herald
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Each year, in communities across the nation, people whose lives have been impacted by cancer unite their efforts in the ongoing fight against the disease. For each of the past seven years, Rocklin’s Candice Vaughan has joined in that endeavor as a participant in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The Relay for Life first came to Rocklin in 2002, when Vaughan joined her husband, Cris, and his colleagues from the Rotary Club to walk in honor of cancer survivors, to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to the illness and to raise money to help fight it. Candice Vaughan returned each year, participating in memory of her father-in-law and other relatives who have lost the battle with cancer. In 2006, however, the yearly experience took on added significance for her. On Aug. 10, 2006 Candice Vaughan was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began chemotherapy treatments in October of that year, which began on the same day that her son Jason was deployed to Iraq. Following two rounds of chemotherapy, which included 16 infusions, Candice Vaughan required surgery, a bi-lateral mastectomy, in June 2007 followed by radiation treatment. This year, Candice Vaughan walks for herself, as a cancer survivor, in addition to honoring the others in her life who have battled this disease and her family members who have supported her during her experience. Since her final radiation session on Oct. 11, her cancer has been in remission, something that she will remember when she takes to the track at Rocklin High School this weekend. The Relay for Life began in 1986 as the City of Destiny 24-Hour Run Against Cancer in Tacoma, Wash., the brainchild of Tacoma surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt. That initial event drew 19 teams and raised $33,000 for the fight against cancer. The relay has grown to more than 4,800 events nationwide, as communities gather in battling this disease. Participants come together to form teams, representing businesses, church groups, schools, families, or groups of friends drawn together with the shared goal of making a difference in a great cause. Teams seek sponsorship prior to the relay, and ACS uses all funds raised in the fight against the disease as well as in providing tools to assist those currently dealing with cancer. Each team comes with sleeping bags and tents, prepared to spend the night, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times. Each event begins with an opening ceremony, which includes a survivor’s walk, an emotional first lap in which cancer survivors circle the track to set the stage for the rest of the event. Candice Vaughan said she finds the survivor walk to be one of the most incredible moments of the weekend festivities. “Last year, I walked with a total stranger,” she said. “But she was my friend before the lap was over. This event is a time when people are brought together by their shared experiences.” When this year’s Rocklin Relay for Life steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept.13, it will be, by far, the most successful of the seven annual events. Doreen Prado is the chairperson for the 2008 relay, and she reports that the 558 people who have registered for the walk is nearly double the number who took part in 2007. According to Prado, the Relay for Life a bonding experience for all who attend. In addition to the survivor’s walk that opens the event, Prado is especially fond of the luminaria ceremony that comes just after dark. The track is lined with candles in honor of loved ones who have been lost to cancer. With games and activities going on throughout the night, event organizers and sponsors provide plenty of additional activities for all involved. In her speech at a recent survivor reception, cancer survivor Patty Hidalgo spoke of this year’s relay. “On Sept.13,” she said, “We will gather as a community to celebrate the survivors, remember loved ones who have lost their fight against this disease, and to fight back. Our Relay for Life event is only 24 hours long, but we can depend on ACS to be there 365 days a year for each and every one of us.” Additional information about this year’s event can be found on the Rocklin Relay for Life website at http://events.-cancer.org/rflrocklinca.required surgery, a bi-lateral mastectomy, in June 2007 followed by radiation treatment. This year, Candice Vaughan walks for herself, as a cancer survivor, in addition to honoring the others in her life who have battled this disease and her family members who have supported her during her experience. Since her final radiation session on Oct. 11, her cancer has been in remission, something that she will remember when she takes to the track at Rocklin High School on Sept. 13 and 14. The Relay for Life began in 1986 as the City of Destiny 24-Hour Run Against Cancer in Tacoma, Wash., the brainchild of Tacoma surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt. That initial event drew 19 teams and raised $33,000 for the fight against cancer. The relay has grown to more than 4,800 events nationwide, as communities gather in battling this disease. Participants come together to form teams, representing businesses, church groups, schools, families, or groups of friends drawn together with the shared goal of making a difference in a great cause. Teams seek sponsorship prior to the relay, and ACS uses all funds raised in the fight against the disease as well as in providing tools to assist those currently dealing with cancer. Each team comes with sleeping bags and tents, prepared to spend the night, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times. Each event begins with an opening ceremony, which includes a survivor’s walk, an emotional first lap in which cancer survivors circle the track to set the stage for the rest of the event. Candice Vaughan said she finds the survivor walk to be one of the most incredible moments of the weekend festivities. “Last year, I walked with a total stranger,” she said. “But she was my friend before the lap was over. This event is a time when people are brought together by their shared experiences.” When this year’s Rocklin Relay for Life steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept.13, it will be, by far, the most successful of the seven annual events. Doreen Prado is the chairperson for the 2008 relay, and she reports that the 558 people who have registered for the walk is nearly double the number who took part in 2007. According to Prado, the Relay for Life a bonding experience for all who attend. In addition to the survivor’s walk that opens the event, Prado is especially fond of the luminaria ceremony that comes just after dark. The track is lined with candles in honor of loved ones who have been lost to cancer. With games and activities going on throughout the night, event organizers and sponsors provide plenty of additional activities for all involved. In her speech at a recent survivor reception, cancer survivor Patty Hidalgo spoke of this year’s relay. “On Sept.13,” she said, “We will gather as a community to celebrate the survivors, remember loved ones who have lost their fight against this disease, and to fight back. Our Relay for Life event is only 24 hours long, but we can depend on ACS to be there 365 days a year for each and every one of us.” Additional information about this year’s event can be found on the Rocklin Relay for Life website at http://events.cancer.org/rflrocklinca.