Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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June 11, 2014

Unified effort again says no to cancer

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Unity and diversity came together in a big way as cancer survivors and supporters gathered for the annual Relay For Life event in Pauls Valley.

Survivors of all ages joined forces Friday night to take that first lap together officially opening the all night event at Wacker Park meant to raise money for cancer research.

The main idea was again to raise funding for the American Cancer Society in a national effort to boost the research needed to find a cure for cancer.

At the same time event participants made it clear they’re hoping to make a difference by honoring all survivors and remembering those lost to the deadly disease that’s touched so many lives.

Among the many survivors present were Pauls Valley minister Terry Clayton and his wife Darla.

For Terry his sixth bout with cancer, each time a different kind, is still ongoing as just last month he had a spot removed from his lung and is about to begin a series of chemotherapy treatments.

None of if has slowed him down in moving forward with his calling.

“I preached last Sunday,” Clayton said, referring to June 1. “I’ve only missed two Sundays in the pulpit.”

He was among the many survivors echoing the same feelings about the importance of an event like Relay For Life.

“It means everything to see everybody come together,” he said. “Everyone has got a story to tell. I thank the Lord for all the support I have.

“The American Cancer Society is a great organization that helps a lot of people.”

Along with other survivors Clayton urges everyone to take the “scans” and “do what the doctors tell you to do” as a way of staying healthy and catching cancer early.

“Early detection is how I survived,” Clayton added.

The very same message also came from Stephanie Hair, who many years ago worked at the Pauls Valley Democrat.

It was back in October 1999 when Hair was diagnosed with cervical cancer — just a few months after ovarian cancer was found in her own mother.

Cancer ultimately claimed Hair’s mom, but it was the early detection that has kept her cancer free ever since.

“An event like this is awesome,” Hair said about the Relay.

“It helps us recognize all the people who fight and are still fighting and remember all the people who have passed on because of cancer.

“It provides information to other people who are a part of this fight.”

Among those helping to hold the banner for the event’s opening lap was a cancer survivor on the younger side — 13-year-old Rodney Knowles Jr. of Wynnewood.

Knowles was actually born with a tumor on his head back in 2000. The tumor was removed but the cancer returned.

At two years old Knowles underwent leukemia treatments as today he gladly immerses himself in events like Relay For Life.

“I’m doing fine,” he said with smile. “Ever since May 2003 I’ve been perfect.”

The young teenager also believes the Relay has an important role to play for all the people whose lives have been impacted by cancer.

“I think it helps the community realize what some people are going through,” Knowles said.

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