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East Lincoln to host Relay for Life to benefit cancer research

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

Local businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and area residents will come together Friday evening in eastern Lincoln County to once again raise money for one of the most deadly diseases in today’s society — cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society website, more than 12.5 million people in 2009 were either living with the disease or had been diagnosed at some point in their lives. The statistic does not include the many victims who’ve lost their cancer fight.

Currently, there are 24 teams comprised of more than 200 individuals signed up to participate in this year’s East Lincoln Relay for Life event, according to the event’s website.

Julie Pearson, community manager of both East Lincoln and Lincolnton’s Relay efforts for the last six years, said officials’ monetary goal for 2013 is $150,000, the same amount the event drew in last year.

She is certainly no stranger to the “Big C,” as some call it, since it claimed the lives of both her parents, her mother 13 years ago from breast cancer and her father three years ago this week from lung cancer, she said.

Following her mother’s death, Pearson opted for genetic testing to see if she, too, had the breast cancer-causing gene. When tests showed she was positive, doctors didn’t have to tell her twice to undergo a double mastectomy and hysterectomy to decrease her odds of one day getting the disease.

She now considers herself a “previvor” — someone with a cancer predisposition who stops the infection before it can even start.

Pearson said the number of previvors has increased tremendously over the years as individuals have become more knowledgeable about the disease and their family histories.

It’s been 14 years since she joined the national fight against cancer and began volunteering with the American Cancer Society and local Relay events to raise awareness.

She said she’s even shared her story with other women who’ve found themselves in similar situations.

Friday’s Relay for Life event will include a number of individual fundraising efforts as each team dots the area in and around the East Lincoln High School stadium with separate tents and booths filled with music, games, drawings and food. Additional event activities will include face painting and a bounce house for children.

“It’s a fun, family atmosphere,” Pearson said.

East Lincoln Relay for Life will kick off at 6 p.m. at the East Lincoln High School stadium and conclude 8 a.m. Saturday with a closing ceremony. For more information, contact Julie Pearson at julie.pearson@cancer.org or (704) 473-1268.

“It’s not too late to get involved,” she said.

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