WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Friday night, there was a glimmer of hope in the fight against cancer as hundreds laced up to find a cure at the biggest Relay for Life in Ohio.
“Everything we’ve done, those small steps do make a big difference,” said Ken Kramp, organizer of Warren’s Relay downtown.
Just this year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be well over 68,000 new cancer cases in Ohio. Across the nation, that number jumps to about 2 million.
But the participants who flocked to Courthouse Square Friday to kickstart the annual Relay For Life aren’t losing hope.
“It’s a celebration of survivors. That there is also life after you’re diagnosed, hearing those words that you never want to hear,” said Debbie Canan, a 14-year survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Debbie also had an inoperable tumor wrapped around her heart. She said she’s blessed to be alive and take part in Warren’s Relay for Life.
She, along with several other survivors, said their stories are all so similar, even if they’ve been written differently.
“Of course, it’s very emotional. This is the first year I didn’t cry, though,” Teddy Agues said.
Teddy explained her story as a three-year stomach cancer survivor.
“It was horrible but I had a great family and support.”
Niko Conansecu had a grandson who wouldn’t leave her side Friday night. He also loves walking in the Relay for Life.
While some Relays have seen a drop in attendance, Warren’s has been going strong for over 25 years.
Their mission is simple — they turn out every year in hopes of finding a cure for cancer and raising the important funds for cancer research.
“You’ve seen some of the results of the things that we do,” Ken said. “[Cancer] has become more knowledgeable, but we’re also catching it a lot sooner, too.”
And it all starts with that first step.