One step at a time

LIHUE — Leona Sa McDermott says the support her husband and many other cancer survivors receive at Relay for Life events is changing their lives.

“I want people to understand that it is from the night to the next morning, but cancer is 24/7,” McDermott said. “When we relay around the circle,we keep going because cancer does not stop.”

The second relay event of the year, Relay for Life of North Shore will take place at Kauai Christian Academy on Friday, starting at 6 p.m. and ending 6 a.m. Saturday.

“Teams and individual participants come together as a community to support and fundraise to eventually find a cure for cancer,” said Patti Ornellas, Relay for Life community manager.

As of Monday, 22 teams and 159 participants have raised over $16,000 of the $30,000 event goal.

“We come to celebrate our survivors who are still here with us,” Ornellas said. “We also remember and honor our loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer. We also stand united and do everything we can to fight back.”

McDermott, whose husband was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2005, said the voices of survivors may encourage someone who may have cancer to get a check-up.

“Don’t second guess. Go. That’s what we did and we found out my husband had cancer,” she said. “When they see a local boy go up and speak about his battle, maybe another local boy or go will say, ‘You know what? I’ll go and get myself checked.’”

Although some people may hesitate to attend the relay, Ornellas reminds them that cancer never sleeps.

“We just walk in the footsteps of a cancer survivor’s journey that they take every day of their lives once they hear the three words of ‘You have cancer,’” she said. “We want to show them that we support them and that we’ll do whatever we can to help them in this fight.”

Ornellas said there are three 20-foot by 20-foot campsites open, but participants need to register for those spots by Thursday.

Entertainment will include music by Lady Ipo Kahaunaele and Not My First Radio.

There will be entertainment and games, as well.

“I do encourage everyone to come,” she said.

Individuals and teams may register Friday.

Donations may be accepted at, or call the Kauai Office American Cancer Society, 246-0695.


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