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Exeter steps up to stamp out cancer

Patrick Garrity

The annual Relay for Life event draws hundreds of students, many with personal motives to fight the disease. 

April 10, 2018

The numbers are frightening. 

Approximately 40 out of 100 men and 38 out of 100 women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetime. This year, 1.7 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States. More than 609,000 people will die from cancer in the U.S. alone. 

Worldwide, cancer accounts for about 1 in every 7 deaths — more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Such sobering statistics obscure more hopeful figures, however. Survival rates across all types of cancers have risen 20 percentage points over the past four decades. In a generation, the death rate dropped 39 percent for female breast cancer and 52 percent for prostate cancer. And the American Cancer Society is raising $1 billion every year to fund programs to fight the disease. 

That’s where Exonians come in. Each year, Exeter joins the thousands of communities across the country and around the world to host a Relay for Life event to raise money and awareness. In 2017, participants raised more than $12,000 for cancer research. 

Learn more about Exeter's Relay for Life event

This year’s event — less a relay than a carnival, with games, food and prizes — is April 14. It will include a candle lighting where members of the community can share, through all means of expression, their experiences with cancer and their motivations for their support for the relay. 

Ahead of the event, we asked Exonians just why they relay:

I am a cancer survivor. When I was in seventh grade, I was diagnosed with cancer, and for the next 14 months of my life, I was in and out of the hospital going through cancer treatment. I know personally how cancer impacts the lives of not only the patient, but all their family and friends. I think everyone is impacted by cancer in some way, and that is why it is so important to raise money for cancer research.  Being involved in the Relay for Life program on campus is one way for me personally to give back and to help support future cancer research by raising money. It would be my hope that no one would ever have to go through what I went through.  — Gavin Cotter ‘19

Both my grandfather and my Nana have had to battle with cancer at some point in their lives. My Nana had skin cancer a few years back, and my Grandpa has been battling with cancer more recently. It's such a hard situation because all you want to do, as a bystander, is to help, but cancer can be really difficult to combat. So, I became a part of Relay For Life so that I could help everyone who is in their own battle against cancer. It gives me a feeling that I am making a difference in their lives, no matter how big or small that difference may be. I think that it is important to bring whatever positive change I can. — Lauren Leatham ‘19

My mother is a survivor of Stage II breast cancer, and she has thankfully been cancer free for almost three years now. The Luminaria bags are a beautiful way to honor and celebrate survivors, those we've lost to cancer and those who are still struggling. I've been doing events like Relay for Life and Race for the Cure for years now, and I do it for my mom and all those who fought and are still fighting the same battle that she did. — Adelaide Graham ‘20

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