By Terry Rogers
At 6 PM on Friday, June 16, Milford’s Relay for Life kicked off in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the event. After the welcoming ceremonies, Cindy Canevari, a cancer survivor, spoke to the large crowd who were there to support loved ones who were battling cancer as well as those who had survived the disease and to honor those lost to the illness.
“In 2006, Ellen asked me to be a guest speaker at the Kick Off meeting for Relay for Life because I was diagnosed with breast cancer and very open about my experience,” Ms. Canevari said. “I clearly remember 2005 to 2006. Paralyzing fear, sleepless nights, overwhelming anxiety. And the powerlessness. It felt like a year of loss. Loss of friends who stopped calling me because they didn’t know what to say. Loss of control. Loss of work and being productive. Loss of precious time. Loss of independence. Loss of me. It felt like cancer was winning, having the ultimate loss, the loss of my life.” In 2017, Ms. Canevari said that things have changed significantly.
Since her initial diagnosis, Ms. Canevari has had two more primary cancer diagnoses, bladder and neuro-endocrine carcinoma, in addition to her initial diagnosis of breast cancer. She has undergone surgeries, blood draws, tests, chemotherapy and radiation. Ms. Canevari said that she has been hairless twice and watched five laws passed that give Delawareans fighting cancer a chance. She founded a non-profit organization, Ribbon Cap Club, raising thousands in donations to cancer research and programs. She has been a Delaware State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network where she has met with state and federal lawmakers to describe the problems cancer patients and their families face.
“And I am still standing,” Ms. Canevari said, enthusiastically. “I am no longer powerless. Today, I am no longer filled with loss. Today, the fear is there but I learned to face that fear and walk through it. I am educated. I am strong. I am determined. I am grateful. I seek out the best and the brightest in the cancer medical field. I ask a million questions and I kindly demand answers. And I am still standing.” After her speech, Ms. Canevari participated in the first “Stomp Out Cancer” 5k, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Milford.
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Ms. Canevari’s theme continued throughout the night as participants and their support system walked the track on the old Middle School grounds throughout the night, raising money for the American Cancer Society in honor of loved ones they have lost or those who were fighting the disease. During an emotional Survivor’s Walk, people who have been diagnosed and are now cancer-free walked the track. Illuminaries lit the field with the names of those who have lost their battle and those fighting the disease as well.
As the sun fell, lasers lit the sky in a light show presented by CT Lasers. The show was stunning, lighting the sky with bright colors in memory of those who have passed away from cancer and those battling the disease.
“My brother is currently battling cancer,” said Charles Gray who served on the committee with his sister, Carmen Kemper.”This is a disease that hits home to so many families. Teams that participate are passionate about Relay and I share that same passion. We want a cure, we know what it takes. It takes awareness, it takes remembering the struggle and those that lost the battle and, equally important, it takes celebrating survivors.” Mr. Gray said that Milford’s 20th anniversary of the event was a huge success. He said that sponsors did not simply write a check, but walked, worked and provided resources to make it happen. The committee set a goal of $40,000 and they exceeded that amount before the first person stepped on the track.
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