Relay For Life celebrates caregivers, survivors

Area cancer survivors hold the Relay for Life banner prior to the start of the 2011 Relay for Life of DeKalb County.
Area cancer survivors hold the Relay for Life banner prior to the start of the 2011 Relay for Life of DeKalb County.

SYCAMORE – Over the last 17 years, Relay For Life of DeKalb County has raised more than $1.5 million towards cancer research and programs and services for cancer patients and their families.

Relay For Life celebrates survivors and remembers those who are gone, those who are fighting and the people who care for them. Over the last few years the focus has been on thanking and recognizing caregivers. A caregiver is anyone who supports a cancer patient – a family member, friend, someone who says a prayer or thinks good thoughts, a nurse, doctor, radiology technician, certified nurse’s aide, surgeon, pastor, co-worker, the person who brings a meal or holds a hand, American Cancer Society volunteers who give a hug or answer the hotline at 2 a.m. when a patient is scared and doesn’t know who to talk to.

Survivors, caregivers and the public are invited to the 2013 Relay For Life of DeKalb County on Friday, June 14.

Survivors and their caregivers will be honored at a dinner before the opening ceremony. Register by calling the American Cancer Society office in Batavia at 630-879-9009 ext. 3 and mention the Relay For Life of DeKalb County.

Some teams walking in the 12-hour relay have personal cancer stories to tell. Raegan was diagnosed with ganglioneuroblastoma when she was 3 years old. Ganglioneuroblastoma is an abdominal cancer that affects only 5 in 1 million children. Her mother and primary caregiver, Asheli, had to be strong for her daughter.

Raegan was hospitalized several times and has always been grateful for the support system she had from friends and family, especially her mom and sister.

Asheli, Raegan and their family have been involved with Relay For Life for three years with Team Rae of Sunshine.

There is still time to sign up a team or purchase luminaria. Sponsors and items for the silent auction are also needed. This is a free event and open to the entire community.

Eva has been a caregiver to several people – a friend who battled leukemia, a sister-in-law who battled breast cancer, and her mother, who battled pancreatic cancer. She has been a friend to friends affected by cancer. But by far, the toughest one was her mother’s battle. Caring for a parent is different. The last month of her mom’s life, Eva would drive 45 minutes after work and sit helplessly by her mom’s side. After going home and passing out from exhaustion, she got up to do it all again.

Near the end, Eva’s mom took cards and letters she had received and pressed them into her forearms, then traced the names on her arms. When she grew too weak, she asked others to do it for her. She told her daughter that she was going to carry those names to heaven where she would ask for those people to be blessed. It overwhelmed Eva to think her mother would think of others when her life was nearing its end.

Relay for Life of DeKalb County

6 p.m. June 14 – 6 a.m. June 15

Sycamore High School

Opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Luminaria ceremony at dusk. Activities, food, fundraisers and a silent auction all night.

For information, to purchase luminaria or to register a team, call 630-879-9009 ext. 3 or visit

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