Support Relay so there may be more ‘lucky ones’

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To the Editor:

This year I am co-chairing the Isle of Wight/Surry Relay for Life Event that will be held at Smithfield High School May 29-30.

I am looking forward to everyone’s involvement in this worthwhile cause. Individuals may either create a team, give a donation or just volunteer on the day of the event.

The Relay is a fun-filled activity with celebrations for cancer survivors, encouragement for those battling cancer, memories of those who have passed away and hope that we will one day find a cure.

I have first-hand experience dealing with the devastation of cancer, and I know how important it is to have a support system and, perhaps even more importantly, I know the need for hope.

Please let me take a moment to share my story with you. My husband’s mother died from breast cancer, his aunt suffered with leukemia, and his grandmother battled breast cancer and is a survivor. My mother and my uncle both died of lung cancer. My father died of colon cancer, and his sister — my aunt — succumbed to brain cancer.

My grandmother also had leukemia and my great-aunt had breast cancer.

Also, my great-grandmother had melanoma.

Cancer does not discriminate, and nearly everyone in my family has been touched by it.

But it became quite personal when I became the patient.

On Oct. 17, 2003, I heard the words “Mrs. Cowen, it is cancer.” I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. My battle scar is on my leg. I am one of the lucky ones, and I try to repay my thanks for my recovery by being involved with Relay for Life, and I hope to be part of the cure so that there may be many more “lucky ones.”

For the last 16 years, I have enthusiastically been a part of a Relay for Life team and I will continue with these efforts until one day there is a cure. Because of family history, I want to work to find a cure so that my children will never hear the words “You have cancer”. I feel that the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is the vehicle that will bring about the cure. It will also provide services, education and hope 24 hours a day in the meantime.

The ACS Web site is, and its toll free number is 1-800-ACS-2345.

Please support this worthy cause if asked. It is true that cancer touches so many lives but nothing touches a life more than a giving heart.

For more information on the Isle of Wight/Surry Relay For Life, log on to or call 255-0058.

Nancy Cowen

Isle of Wight