Emotions high for survivors and supporters

By Roger Moroney

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LAPPING IT UP: Banners and drumbeats led the way for the more than 1500 people who took part in Saturday's Relay For Life. PHOTO/Warren Buckland
LAPPING IT UP: Banners and drumbeats led the way for the more than 1500 people who took part in Saturday's Relay For Life. PHOTO/Warren Buckland

The Hawke's Bay Relay For Life may have been reduced to 12 hours for its 12th appearance on Saturday but there was no reduction in the colour, enthusiasm, emotions and crucial fundraising from the more than 1500 who took part.

"We could not be happier," Hawke's Bay Cancer Society manager Trudy Kirk said yesterday as she and her crew of volunteers carried out clean-up duties at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park.

"It was a beautiful day and there was such a casual and relaxed atmosphere about it all."
Ms Kirk said the general consensus was that reducing to 12 hours from 20 worked in better for most people - especially for those with young families who were able to leave a little earlier.

And it did not reduce the determination of the many teams who not only raised money but also raised smiles.

Like the "Guess Who?" team who walked with frames about their costumed faces.

And the very Hawaiian-like sunhat and lei crew from Cranford Hospice, and the Silver Fern Beef Busters small army who got the nod for being top team fundraisers - although final figures were still being put together.

"It is too early to say how much, as there is still the Property Brokers Auction on March 17 and teams are still fundraising," Ms Kirk said, adding that it was likely to be over the $100,000 mark.

She said along with the opening lap led by cancer survivors, the final candle-lit ceremony which featured young people singing was "so very emotional".

Hastings woman Sue Crombie has been a supporter and participant for many years as cancer has been a dark part of her family's life.

"My mum died of cancer and my husband has just come out of it (treatment) - he is going to be one of the survivors," she said.

Her mother-in-law is battling melanoma and she also has a good friend who is battling the disease - a friend she fears she is going to lose.

"This awful thing has no barriers - nothing at all, it can strike at anyone and all ages," she said.

One thing Mrs Crombie did not do this year was a lap count.

"One year I said to myself, I'll do a lap for those I know who are going through it or who I have lost to it." She got up to 26.

"I thought about it - it was just awful, so I don't do that now."

Despite undergoing a quadruple bypass last year, she was determined to once again be part of the great "family" who took part in the event.

"Everybody there knows what it is all about - you see it in the faces," she said.

"It's all the emotions because it is not just the person with the cancer, it is the families and the friends and all those who work in dealing with it along what is a frightening journey."

For cancer survivor Sheryl Wiggins of Waipukurau, it was a somewhat poignant day.

She was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of 2014 but after extensive treatment received a clearance and took part as "a survivor".

"But now my husband has been diagnosed with cancer," she said.

She has also lost a sister and a brother to the disease.

"I don't think there is a family that has not been affected by it."

Saturday's event was her second, and she took part as a member of the Central Hawke's Bay "Go-Go Girls" group - although this year she did not take her miniature pony Cherokee along.

Last year she dressed him in a coat of 800 daffodils.

"I had a lot of people come up and ask me where he was - I hummed and haa-ed about taking him and decided not to, but I wish I had now - he'll definitely be there next year."

?People wanting to take part in the 2017 event can register with the Hawke's Bay Cancer Society now "so they can fundraise through the year for us," Ms Kirk says.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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