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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Teamwork: Walking Tall Against Cancer

By Jen Thomas
06:04AM / Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jocelyn Moreno and her mom Donna Page[Photo by Jen Thomas]
North Adams - Family members came together last night to walk for a cancer cure during the second Northern Berkshire Relay for Life held at the Noel Field Athletic Complex.

“We’ve lost a lot of close [family members] and we’re hoping not to lose anymore,” said Emily Lipa, captain of “The Breakfast Club for Catherine’s Angels.”

The relay is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

The revenues raised benefit cure research focused on an illness that will claim the lives of an estimated 13,240 people this year in Massachusetts.

Participants in the Relay for Life take turns walking laps - all through the night, rain or shine, in all weather to show solidarity in the fight against cancer. The teams also tackle fundraising in the months before the relay. The event sponsors a survivor lap, a caregiver lap, and hundreds of luminaries and candles in honor of those who’ve survived cancer or who have lost their battle to the disease.


Emily Lipa and Deb Lipa [Photo by Jen Thomas]
It's a team effort from lap to lap, and many teams host family members.

Lipa and her mother Deb Lipa coordinated the effort to raise money in memory of a beloved family member.

"Em started doing these relays because her Gram was sick,” said Deb Lipa. “She developed her own way to cope.”

"The Breakfast Club for Catherine’s Angels" is a merger of two teams who walk in honor of Catherine Lipa. The team boasts 22 members. and has raised over $8,000 for the relay through raffles and dinner dances.

"We put a lot of energy into it, but it’s worth it," said Emily Lipa.

At The End Of This Rainbow is Hope

Donna Page started “Jocelyn’s Rainbow of Hope” after her daughter, Jocelyn Moreno of Adams, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Jocelyn, now 26, has been cancer-free for 2 and a half years now, and the family continues to walk during relays.

"We started to help other cancer patients," said Page. "'Jocelyn’s Rainbow of Hope' has raised approximately $3,500 this year through car washes, bake sales, and raffles."

Moreno's sons, Nico, 8, and Michael, 9 are part of the team.

"They look forward to this all year," said Moreno.

Page termed the relay “a celebratory event,” but said she feels the pain brought on by her family's experience and the experiences of the other cancer survivors and their families.

"When we do the relay, it brings back all the emotions. There’s sadness, fear, anger, you name it."

"You try to forget what it what was like somewhat, but the relay brings it all back," said Moreno.

"But the relay, it brings hope," Page added.

The team name has special significance for the family. Page explained that last year at the Northern Berkshire relay, the team spotted a rainbow on the horizon.

"We’re really working on the spring theme,” she said, as she ducked under a tent to avoid the rain. "Hopefully."

At about 7: 50 p.m., the symbol most relay walkers had hoped to see appeared; a vivid rainbow arched over the field.

Tammy DeRose, Joanne DeRose and Helen Gardner[Photo by Jen Thomas]


"All My Friends are Gems"

Sisters Helen Gardner and Joanne DeRose have walked the Relay for Life during the previous two years, but the event took on special meaning this year when DeRose was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago.

"I love to get involved," said DeRose. "Last year, I was on the sponsorship committee, but this year really took on a special meaning for me."

"Until you’ve walked in the survivor lap, you can’t really appreciate and respect the emotion,"she said.

DeRose planned to walk her laps even though she is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment for her cancer.

"I don’t care if I have to go out in a wheelchair, I’ll be there" she said.

"Joanne’s Jems" was originally called "The Live Wires" but the name changed this year to honor DeRose.

"All my friends are true gems for supporting me," she explained.

The "jems'" had yet to calculate a fundraising total but the teammates do know that the 24-person team raised over $3,000 for the cause.

"It’s a good cause and a great organization," Gardner said.

A Chance to Heal

The importance of generating awareness about a disease that changed their lives and the monies to beat it back brought most of the team members to the field for the relay..

"It’s really sad, but there’s a lot of positive energy here,” said Deb Lipa. “It’s a chance to heal.”

DeRose said she greatly values the support of cancer survivors. They give her hope, she said.

"I’m pretty confident I can beat this," she said. "It was caught at an early stage, and as long as I follow my treatments, I’m hopeful."

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384.
Your Comments
Post Comment
We have friends in the Northern Berkshire area who have had to deal with cancer. It was nice to read about people donating their time and energy to this. Thanks to you all.
from: Matt and Carolon: 05-19 00:00:00-2007


 
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