June 4 was a very sad day for several area residents, including myself. On that day, former Exeter High School mathematics teacher Judy Olson passed away after battling cancer. Mrs. Olson was only 65. July 30, 2011, was another day of mourning for many local residents. That was the day that we lost Mary Wilson at the age of 34. Mary was also taken from us after a courageous battle with cancer. Each day, more than 1,500 people lose their fight against cancer, and over 1,600,000 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year. We all know someone who has battled, beaten or succumbed to cancer. This disease has touched all of our lives.
Last weekend, hundreds of Barry County residents gathered at the Wildcat football stadium to raise money for the American Cancer Society, which provides services for individuals battling cancer, advocates for legislation designed to reduce the risks of cancer and funds cancer research. On Saturday, dedicated individuals walked and jogged the Cassville track for 12 hours in honor of Mary, Mrs. Olson and other individuals who have lost their battles and those who are still fighting. Throughout the day, participants collected over $16,000.
I believe we can do more. The South Barry County Relay For Life Committee will continue to collect funds for another week or two. All donations will be added to this year's South Barry County Relay total and donated to the American Cancer Society. Donations, which can be as little as $5, can be made online at www.relayforlife.org.
Relay For Life is not all about money. It is also about education. Participants share steps for decreasing the risk of developing cancer, including: avoiding tobacco; eating healthy; staying active; and using sunscreen. We can do everything right and still get cancer though. For that reason, Relay participants also offer information on cancer screenings designed to detect the disease early and increase the chance of survival. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screenings: yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40; clinical breast exams every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women over 40; self breast exams; colorectal cancer and polyps screening beginning at the age of 50; and yearly fecal occult blood tests, which also detect cancer.
Community members who were unable to attend the 2012 South Barry County Relay For Life can still join the fight against cancer. Visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org or talk to your physician about cancer symptoms, risks and prevention methods. Working together, we can reduce the number of sad days and increase the number of triumphant ones.