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Relay for Life: Why they do it

LaGrange County's Relay for Life event is less than 40 days away. Why do people participate in Relay and what is it? This is just one team's reason to Relay this year.

Jason Crabill woke up on February 1 with a sore neck thinking it was a pulled muscle or he had slept wrong. By Sunday his neck and chest were swollen to the point his veins were bulging.

First thing Monday morning he made an appointment with his family doctor. As soon as he was seen that day he was sent immediately to the hospital ER and blood work was done along with a CT scan. The ER doctor then consulted with an oncologist at Parkview in Ft. Wayne who determined that he needed to be brought there immediately and they would have a bed waiting for him. He was told later that they were worried about the swelling obstructing his airway and putting pressure on his heart.

On Tuesday he was started on antibiotics as the lead doctor was thinking more that it was an infection, because lymphoma doesn't usually hit as quickly as this, and he was also scheduled for a biopsy of a lymph node on Wednesday.

After surgery he was allowed to go home with an appointment with the surgeon the following Thursday. Not hearing anything between then and the appointment, the family was thinking it might just be an infection. No news is supposed to be good news. At his appointment the surgeon checked the incision and was surprised to find out they had not been contacted by the oncologist and he was the one that broke the news to Jason that he had Stage II Classical Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

On Saturday he would turn 28.

In the meantime it was determined that none of the doctors he had seen or the hospital was in his insurance's network. Just one more thing to add to a stressful time. All records were transferred to Goshen Center for Cancer and four days later he was meeting with his doctor and staff and receiving enough information to make his head spin.

Friday was a whirlwind day – classes on everything about chemo, pet scan, EKG, his chemo port put in, and decisions to be made. Then the following Thursday his first chemo treatment, the first of many – every two weeks for six months along with a Neulasta shot the day after chemo to keep his white blood cell count up.

Despite the normal side effects – nausea, body aches, hair loss and chemo brain – he remains positive and upbeat, “It is what it is.” The sad thing is, this and so many similar stories are part of everyday life in LaGrange County as more and more cancer diagnoses become a reality and part of everyday life.

Now what is Relay for Life and what is the connection to this story and the many more like it whose lives are affected by Cancer. Relay is the American Cancer Society's largest fundraiser. Teams are formed by families, businesses, coworkers or just friends that usually have one thing in common – cancer has touched someone they know.

Teams and individuals raise money throughout the year for the event. This year the culmination to their hard work will take place on June 21 and 22 at Lakeland High School in LaGrange.

Because cancer never sleeps, Relay events are overnight community walking events. Team members take turns walking the track, rain or shine, adults and children of all ages participate. Throughout the night music, food and games make the time go by quickly. When the sun goes down, luminaries light the track in remembrance of those who have faced cancer. They honor those who have survived and remember those they have lost.

It's not too late to form a team of your own, or join an existing team or just come out to Lakeland and see what all the noise is about.

For more information on LaGrange County Relay for Life event, check out the web page at www.relayforlife.org/lagrangecountyin or contact Event Chair Suzanne Priestley at 269-503-3810 or priestley.suzanne@   yahoo.com.