March 31, 2005
When Vickie Armour of Apache Junction decided recently to spread the word about the city’s upcoming Relay for Life, she didn’t know anyone who had cancer.
"I just wanted to help," she said.
It’s become personal. Armour discovered after volunteering for the event that she has a mass on her lung and one on her kidney. She is waiting to learn if they are cancerous.
"All this is really scary,’’ she said. "It’s the waiting. I kind of know how others feel now.’’
Relay for Life events are scheduled across the country. In addition to Apache Junction, relays will be held in April in Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Fountain Hills.
Relay for Life takes place overnight to symbolize that cancer never sleeps. Team members take turns walking over two days to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
This is Armour’s first year participating in the event. She is in charge of publicity for the Apache Junction relay scheduled for April 9.
"The most amazing part has been all the people,’’ Armour said. "My coworkers have been awesome since I found out — and then there’s all the survivors, and all the people volunteering and coming out to help with the relay.’’
Armour’s employer, the Apache Junction Unified School District, has a team in the relay.
Armour said it has been difficult, but she is "grateful to have friends and to have God in my life,’’ which she credits with allowing her to see this as an opportunity to further raise awareness of — and help for — cancer.
Carlena Lawson, coordinator of Apache Junction’s Relay for Life, appreciates Armour’s determination to help "just to help,’’ and decided to make her the media chairwoman.
Lawson’s involvement stems from her daughter, now 11, being diagnosed with cancer at 21 months.
"We really just want to try and get it known that we’re doing it out here,’’ she said. "I’d like to get it publicized like the Lost Dutchman Days.’’
Lawson said team members are recommended to set a goal of about $100
"We’d like to make $20,000 after expenses,’’ she said.
When Lawson became coordinator, she asked Linda Nilles to head a division. Nilles, whose 82-year-old father is a cancer survivor, chose to be the survivor chairwoman.
"The Relay for Life is really about celebrating the lives of survivors or warriors of cancer,’’ Nilles said.
She runs a dinner for survivors and special projects. This year, survivors are making quilt squares and designing stepping stones to create a "memory walk,’’
Survivors also kick off the event by walking the first lap. The initial victory lap gives survivors an opportunity to share and celebrate success in their battle against cancer, give hope to people living with cancer and their families, and thank everyone who helped them through their battle, Nilles said.
"We just try to do little things to let them know we appreciate that they’ve fought the fight,’’ Nilles added. "The more people come out, the more awareness and money we raise.’’
Armour shares the same view.
"This experience has really brought it all home for me,’’ she said. "I have a whole new insight.’’
To register a Relay for Life team, volunteer, make a donation or learn more about upcoming relays in April, call (602) 224-7463 or visit www.cancer.org.