Relay For Life holds annual survivor dinner
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Like any other high school freshman, fifteen-year-old Savannah Lewis has big plans. However, those plans were postponed due to her diagnosis with Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer for children, in September 2016.
She is now nearing the end of her chemotherapy treatments and shared about her battle with cancer during Saturday night’s annual Survivor Dinner, held by Lampasas-Copperas Cove Relay for Life at Grace United Methodist Church.
The event was dedicated to cancer survivors and their caregivers, with approximately 30 cancer survivors attending, along with their caregivers.
Relay for Life lead team members helped serve the meal, catered by Bella Sera Italian Restaurant. Bits ‘n Bites Cake Shop donated a three- tiered cake in a Dr. Seuss theme, in keeping with this year’s Relay theme.
Cancer survivor Forressa Harrison served as the guest speaker. Harrison’s mother and grandmother both battled cancer.
Her resounding call was, despite everything a cancer patient and their family and friends face, the most important thing is to “speak life.”
“You have to speak life, to anyone who has cancer,” Harrison said. “You have to say positive things; you have to say, ‘You can do it,’ ‘You can make it,’ ‘You can get through this,’ ‘You are powerful.’ You have to say, ‘Let’s smile, let’s laugh, let’s crack jokes.’”
She said she understands everybody handles it differently, when the diagnosis is first made of cancer.
“I get that; I get it.”
Harrison gave an example from her own life, when she received her diagnosis of cancer and how her father reacted. She asked him for humor, such as asking her why she hadn’t lost any weight yet.
“I needed that,” she said. “I talked to my dad about that, since then. You never know, if you’re in that situation, but I wanted my family to know, this is what I want.
It’s okay to tell people what you need. If you’re going through it right now, it’s okay to tell your family, ‘I need more laughs. I need more fun. I want to sing again. I want to play cards again. I want to do something besides talk about this cancer.’ That’s so important.”
Harrison also recalled when her mother was at the point in her cancer battle that she knew she was about to pass away, and her own reaction, not wanting to accept it.
“I laid on the bathroom floor, crying. I couldn’t believe she was saying it.” However, Harrison said she determined to go back in and talk and laugh with her mother, rather than her last memory of her daughter being on the floor, crying.
“I feel like it was important to her, to see me laughing again, to see me smiling, to see all of her children laughing.”
The evening ended with a candle lighting ceremony, in which cancer survivors lined the walls of the church hall and passed along a light.
They shared about dates and types of cancer diagnoses—breast, colon, uterine, ovarian, brain, bone, prostate, thyroid, leukemia and more, if and when they became cancer-free and for how long, or if they were still undergoing treatments.
After the candle lighting ceremony, tickets were drawn for door prizes which were given to the survivors.
Savannah Lewis talked about what’s next for her, in terms of her treatment.
“I have three more hard chemos, and around the time they’re finished, the school year is going to end,” she said. “I’m hoping everything continues to go as well as it’s going and that I get to do my sophomore year at Copperas Cove High School.”
She said she’s always been interested in becoming a veterinarian, that she has “a whole bunch of classes” set up in the order she needs to take them, and is looking at forging ahead next school year at CCHS.
No sooner did the Relay For Life lead team clean up after the dinner, then they resumed looking ahead to Saturday’s event, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Williams-Ledger Elementary School Cafeteria.
The Relay For Life will go until midnight and has a schedule of events which is open to the public all day long.
The fundraising goal of the Lampasas-Copperas Cove Relay For Life is to raise $50,000 for the American Cancer Society.