Survivors, supporters relay cancer stories

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Melissa Crowe, right, a Relay For Life Co-chair, helps Therese Musick inventory T-shirts Thursday for event sponsors at Ned Houk Park.

By Jean Verlich: CNJ News Editor

The 12th annual Clovis Relay for Life is taking place today and Saturday at Ned Houk Park.

Here are some of the stories about cancer survivors and relay fund-raiser supporters.

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Chris Brockett, 51, of Clovis is a cancer survivor who will be walking her second Relay for Life tonight.

Brockett was diagnosed the day after Christmas 2005 with recurring malignant melanoma. After learning the diagnosis, she called her mother, Elizabeth Hagglund, in Phoenix who learned the same day she had lung cancer.

Brockett underwent surgery in January 2006. She wasn’t able to take interferon drugs, which reduced her chances of the cancer not coming back to only 30 percent, she said.

Her mom died a year ago this month. She was 77.

Brockett chokes up talking about it.

“A big chunk of my arm (is) gone,” she said.

Participating in the walk isn’t hard, she said. Lighting the memorial luminarias is.

“It’s hard to see the ones that didn’t make it,” she said.

“Tell everyone to wear sunscreen and not smoke,” Brockett added.

“I had no idea. You get told as a kid, and you just don’t pay attention.”

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Leslie Bumgarner of Clovis will walk tonight with members of the Nurses Striking Out Cancer team. It will be the fourth Relay for Life for the 43-year-old and fourth year since being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve walked every year since my diagnosis,” Bumgarner said.

A full-time nursing student at Clovis Community College, Bumgarner is set to graduate soon.

“It’s been a life-long dream,” she said. “I come from a family of nurses.”

The advocacy chair on the Relay for Life planning committee, she said her team will be passing out sunscreen and informational pamphlets at their campsite.

“We like to educate about prevention,” she said.

“We’re excited.”

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Barry Elementary School students raised $2,683 for Relay for Life without walking a step, according to fourth-grade teacher Dawn Hanks.

The students participated in several fund-raisers, including an egg hunt and a paper-link chain challenge.

“Each class was assigned a color,” Hanks said of the paper link chain competition, and the students bought links for 25 cents each.
The winners were students in Shalie Bennett’s fifth-grade class. Their blue chain spanned 983 links.

Hanks will join 45 other members of the Barry Elementary team tonight in the walk at Ned Houk Park.

The steps she takes will be personal.

“My father and grandmother both are survivors,” Hanks said.

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Beth Hardy has worked hard to lose her hair, according to Stephanie Spencer, Clovis Community College director of resource development.

The Clovis Community College nursing instructor has raised more than $1,000 for the Make Beth Bald Fund that will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

For the success in exceeding her goal, she’ll have her locks shorn at tonight’s Relay for Life. The honor goes to the highest bidder.
According to information Hardy posted online, the “Balding of Beth” occurs at 9 p.m.

She’ll be wearing a wig borrowed from CCC’s cosmetology department for the upcoming nurses’ pinning graduation ceremonies, her posting reads.

By the numbers

12
Number of years Relay for Life has been held.

87
Teams registered, the most since the event began in August 1996 at Leon Williams Stadium.

100
Number of survivors expected to participate.

1,600
Team members registered.

3,000
Luminarias expected to be lighted honoring a cancer survivor or remembering someone who lost the battle with cancer.

When: Tonight through Saturday

Where: Ned Houk Park

The public is welcome. There will be activities, entertainment, food and refreshments throughout the night.

Today
5 p.m. — Ribbon cutting
5:30 p.m. — Survivor registration and reception
6 p.m. — Opening ceremony
6:30 p.m. — Survivor and caregiver lap
8:45 p.m. — Luminaria lighting Saturday
2:30 a.m. — Karaoke
3:30 a.m. — Scavenger hunt
7:30 a.m. — Country western hour
7-9 a.m. — Ride for Life registration
9 a.m. — Ride for Life 10-mile trail ride
9 a.m. — Closing ceremony Relay for Life

To make a donation, visit www.acsevents.org/relay/nm/clovis