Relay gives hope in fight against cancer

By Rasmieyh Abdelnabi

With pillows, blankets and loads of food tucked under their arms, participants of Relay for Life marched into the Student Recreation Center Friday night with determination and hope.

Colleges Against Cancer put together the fourth annual Relay for Life. More than 500 people, including 11 cancer survivors, attended.

Matt DeLance, the Relay for Life chair and sophomore marketing major, began the program. DeLance’s father was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in 2001. He passed away three days before DeLance’s birthday.

DeLance has participated in Relay for Life for the last five years.

“I know I can’t bring him back, but if I can save one more person from dying, or one person from losing a father, it’s worthwhile,” he said.

State Representative Bob Pritchard of the 70th District spoke at the opening ceremony.

Encouragement, hope and prayers help people get over the harshness of cancer, he said.

Pritchard thanked the participants for coming and spoke of a bill that, if passed, would give communities the right to pass local ordinances banning smoking in public places. People do not realize how dangerous secondhand smoking is, he said.

Amber Cashman, a sophomore accountancy major, was one of the survivors participating in Relay for Life. She came with her fiancé, Daniel Egusquiza, a junior art education major.

She had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, with tumors in her chest that constricted her breathing.

At first, doctors said it was allergies, and then said it was bronchitis. Cashman went six months before doctors told her on the last day of high school she had cancer.

Surviving cancer has changed her, Egusquiza said. When she first thought of college, she thought of the parties and drinking. Now she realizes family is more important, he said

Relay for Life featured a hypnotist, the NIU Drumline and Cascade and a local band. Having high energy activities was important to keep people going, DeLance said.

It was important to have an overnight event because cancer never sleeps, he said.