For more than 10 years, these legacy Relay For Life of Windward Oahu teams have been “Relaying” for friends, family, and even themselves.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest fundraising event to fight every cancer in every community. Relay For Life events raise critical funds that help fuel the mission of the American Cancer Society, an organization that’s reach touches the lives of so many – those who are currently battling cancer, those who may face a diagnosis in the future, and those who may avoid a diagnosis altogether thanks to education, prevention, and early detection.
Let’s start with Pam and Dennis Shewell’s story with more than 15 years of Relaying.
Dennis and I are no strangers to the word “cancer.” We’ve had our battles and also supported others in their battles. My first experience was when I was 16 (1966) and my mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She had a hysterectomy. She will be 93 in July. That is some survival rate!
Back then, cancer happened to “other people.” I didn’t think much of it. Until 1990. That’s when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was in shock. Yes, I had been coughing quite a bit, but it was February and everyone in Hawaii coughs in February. It’s winter. The lump on my neck appeared during a UH baseball game. Once the diagnosis was made, I went to Stanford Medical Center in California for treatment (surgery & radiation), and then finished treatment at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu (radiation). The following year I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer that was detected during a routine mammogram. I had a left modified radical mastectomy with no chemo or radiation.
In 2000 Dennis was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. It was my turn to become caregiver. He had brachytherapy (radiation seeds). The procedure itself was successful, however, he had some uncomfortable side effects. He learned perseverance and I learned patience! In 2010 Dennis was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. What a shocker! He also had a left modified radical mastectomy. Rule of thumb for men with breast cancer is chemotherapy, which he had at the Queen’s Cancer Center.
We are both cancer free…so far.
At Stanford, the ACS was there & helped me by providing information & I attended a support group. After my breast cancer, I was visited by a Reach to Recovery volunteer. That was my introduction to some of the services provided by the American Cancer Society to patients. It was then that Dennis and I became active with the American Cancer Society – personally, as well as, with the Corvette Club of Hawaii. The club started getting involved with the Jail-a-thon at Windward Mall. We picked up “prisoners” in our Corvettes and brought them back to the mall for sentencing.
It was during one event that Lorna Leong told me about Relay For Life. The Club decided to participate. Our first 3 years was at Kapiolani Park. Then Kailua branched out to its own Relay event at the Kailua District Park. The event then moved to Kailua Beach Park for several years, and now at its current location at Kailua High School. We have participated as a team every year since Kapiolani Park, supporting Kailua & its event to the best of our ability.
Many members of our club have personally been touched by cancer…either had it themselves or a family member or a friend. Every year there is a new reason to Relay. We feel a great need to help the American Cancer Society in its mission to find a cure. Working together, it will happen!
Join Pam and Dennis at the Relay For Life of Windward Oahu, July 9, 2016, 2-10pm, at Kailua High School.