Talk of the Town - April 2018
- story by LB Kovac, photos by Ana Balka, Lionel Haynes, Jr. and courtesy Relay for Life
Members of participating community teams will take shifts walking or jogging in this fun "marathon" event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Teams will also sell snacks, drinks and register folks for prizes.
Click here to register for the event! Don't have a team? Join one, they'll be delighted to have you!
The 2018 Hancock and Harrison Counties Relay for Life Honorary Survivor Art Clementin celebrated his 70th birthday this year. "I'm 70 years young," he tells me over the phone in a big, booming voice, laughing.
A former educator and school administrator, he keeps his days full volunteering with local social organization Men of God, teaching Bible classes, and delivering a radio show three times a week. "I'm doing whatever I can to be involved in and help our community," he says.
Just nine years ago, this idyllic picture was a little darker for Clementin. He got a scary diagnosis: early stage prostate cancer.
"I was very fortunate," he says. "Very blessed."
Talk of the Town
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, an average of 14,000 people in our state are newly diagnosed with cancer each year. Colorectal and breast cancers are the most common diagnoses, but prostate and mouth cancer diagnoses are on the rise.
The costs of cancer treatment, coupled with the increasing number of diagnoses, mean that cancer is also close to eclipsing heart disease as the number one killer in Mississippi. In 2016, 20% of deaths in the state were caused by cancer, according to the Health Department.
Clementin puts his faith in the research that is carried on by organizations such as the American Cancer Society. "I was assisted [in my own recovery] because of research done years ago," he says. "I'm a recipient of lots of people's research and hard work in the medical field."
Clementin's role as Honorary Survivor comes with quite a bit of responsibility. It's not wearing a sash and waving at crowds - Clementin must help bridge the gap between cancer survivors and the public, whose donations can greatly affect the outcomes of their diagnoses.
"That's why I want to encourage as many people as possible to attend," says Clementin. "We need to get the public involved and fight this horrible disease." With more donations, the research necessary to fight the spread of cancer can proceed.
Bernadette Cullen, along with her co-chair Nonnie Richardson, are the organizers of this year's Harrison and Hancock Counties Relay for Life. The event is slated to take place April 21 at the Our Lady of the Gulf Crabfest grounds.
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Scenes from past Relay For Life Events, Hancock County
Cullen points out that Relay for Life is different from other cancer fundraisers because it doesn't just support one type of cancer. "All types - breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia - you name it, we support it. The money goes to help research for all types."
She adds, "Most of the money stays locally. It goes to all kinds of things that your neighbors need, like medicine, doctor visits, rides, etc."
Without the focus on a particular cancer, Relay for Life attendees and organizers are free to focus on the survivors themselves. People like Clementin, who have successfully treated their cancer, as well as people who are still actively battling their cancers.