Claremore Daily Progress

January 16, 2013

Stories of Hope: Relay for Life Kick off

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers County Relay for Life kicked off this year's campaign in style featuring guest speaker and cancer survivor Rei Hamby.

The event sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Hammett House brought together teams from around Rogers County.
Team captains registered members, launching fundraising efforts.
Each team is working to raise a minimum of $1,000 before the main event on April 12 beginning at 6p.m. at Rogers State University.
Local businesses, organizations and individuals are sponsoring teams to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
Last year the campaign raised $66,000 and this year the goal is $75,000.
Relay for Life does more than raise money. It provides hope and inspiration the community.
Hamby is just one voice that is speaking out against cancer and praising the hope Relay for Life brings to survivors.
“The doctor called me and told me ‘I’m sorry you have cancer’ and it was probably the worst moment of my life,” said Hamby “I was so scared, I felt like I was in a black hole and could not get out.”
It was not until many weeks into her treatment that Hamby was invited by a friend to join Relay for Life.
Hamby did not know much about the organization or the main event, however at the urging of her friend decided to join.
“The only thing I knew about the American Cancer Society is their campaign to stop smoking,” Hamby said.
She soon learned that Relay for Life brings awareness and raises money to fight cancer.
The night of the relay event was just days before Hamby was to begin her eighth chemotherapy treatment.
“I felt like everything was caving in on me. I had nothing to look forward to,” Hamby said.
It was that night, that she learned the purpose of Relay for Life — to give hope.
When all the survivors were called to come forward, Hamby did not consider herself that way. She hesitated and watched others receive their survivor sash.
Then she learned that from the time an individual is diagnosed with cancer they become a survivor.
It was that simple, just knowing she was a survivor, with each breath she took, that would push her forward to continue her fight. The support from all the people at the event gave her hope, she added.
“The experience saved my life,” Hamby said. 
The event helped Hamby continue her fight and enjoy her life each day.
It is the reason she speaks out in the fight against cancer and in support of Relay for Life.
In just one evening, the Rogers County community will have the ability to make this type of impact on others like Hamby.
Participation is key to success and the Relay for Life Committee is inviting each member of the Rogers County Community to join a team.
Team registration can be done online at www.relayforlife/rogerscounty. 
More information is also available by contacting Roger Evans at (918) 342-7131.