Relay For Life is a life-changing experience that helps communities across the globe celebrate the lives of people who are fighting cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. The Cancer Association of South Africa's (CANSA) Relay For Life season begins with events taking place all over South Africa.
International Relay For Life further offers a network of Heroes of Hope who are determined to make a difference in saving lives by sharing their story and leading the fight against cancer.
International Relay For Life Heroes of Hope is a global survivorship initiative involving the selection of Heroes of Hope from across the International Relay For Life participating countries. Through International Relay, survivors are given the spotlight to show that there is life after diagnosis. These 'International Heroes of Hope' inspire other community members who have been touched by cancer. They are a testament to the progress that has been made in the fight against cancer and are changing the face of survivorship worldwide.
Last year a loyal volunteer and cancer survivor from St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal, Cenessa Stork, was acknowledged as the International Hero of Hope by the International Relay For Life group. Cenessa received the reward for her participation in South Africa's CANSA Relay For Life events, as well as raising funds, awareness and supporting CANSA's initiatives.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 25 and a decade later she has become a global symbol of hope and courage. Carrying a powerful testimony of survival and strength, Cenessa has used the platform of International Hero of Hope well in spreading the message of hope and courage to cancer survivors worldwide.
Three International Heroes of Hope for 2011
This year CANSA received the honour of selecting three International Heroes of Hope for 2011. They are Jana du Plessis from Bloemfontein, Thembi Ngwenya from Nelspruit and Rita Naidoo from Durban.
Jana went in for an operation which was sport related when they discovered clear cell sarcoma in her ankle. "Having cancer has enriched my life." Her passion used to be sport but now she is a motivational speaker and for her there is nothing better in life than giving hope to people.
Three years ago Thembi was diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma. Throughout her treatment she continued her work at CANSA as Administrative Assistant and returned there after every treatment to assist other survivors. "When I look into my sons loving eyes, I find a new reason to embrace every minute I still have on this earth."
Nine years after being diagnosed with cancer, Rita knows full well how blessed she is to be alive. She became involved with CANSA and learned to harness her anger in order to overcome her. "Each day is a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to serve others and health and happiness are fragile blessings that must be cherished."
These three extraordinary women serve as beacons of hope to all cancer patients and survivors in our country. As a voice and ambassador of CANSA they will increase awareness of CANSAs life-changing work, its mission and to grow Relay For Life participation. "Survivors have the power to change lives by sharing their story and their journey in defeating cancer," says cancer survivor of 27 years and CANSA's CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg.
The new Heroes of Hope were introduced during CANSA's Relay For Life gala award evening where special recognition was given to outstanding Relay events. During the last year, 57 Relay experiences were hosted in communities nationally, of which 38 were nominated for awards - 98 nominations were received in the 15 categories.
Awards went to:
Best Overall Executed Relay 2010/2011: East London;
Best RFL Fundraising: East London (R623 529.18);
Most Relay Teams: Polokwane (217 teams);
Best Youth Relay: Interschools Nelspruit;
Best Relay Mission Delivery: Onderberg;
Best Relay Entertainment: Oudtshoorn;
Best Relay Logistics: George;
Best Relay Marketing/Media: Nelspruit;
Best RFL Plan B: Springbok;
Best Relay Team Development: East London;
Best Relay Launch: Mosselbay;
Best Relay Luminaria: Soweto;
Best RFL Survivors Recognition: Nelspruit;
Best Novice Relay: Ceres;
Best Small Relay >R50 000: Frankfort.
Over 3 400 teams enrolled, more than 3 700 Survivors celebrated with us by walking the honorary survivors lap and almost 120 000 people attended these events.
About CANSA Relay For Life
Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight experience (organised by a volunteer committee) in which teams of participants take turns walking a track overnight in an effort to fight cancer. At more than 70 South African Relay events nationwide, communities celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer, remember loved ones lost and commit to fight back against the disease.
Relay began in USA in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single mans passion to fight cancer into the worlds largest global movement to end the disease. Each year, communities worldwide in 21 countries (Including South Africa) gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.
Relay For Life begins with a moving Survivor's Lap. This inspirational lap honours the courage of all who live with cancer. Cancer survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer) join together to take the opening lap unified in victory and in hope. The atmosphere of Relay For Life is one of camaraderie and celebration, providing an opportunity for cancer survivors and caregivers to pass the torch of hope on to those still battling cancer or those that might be touched by cancer in future.
For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA or email: , call 011 616 7662 or cell: 082 459 5230. Or visit www.cansa.org.za or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email: .
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