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Relay for Life Kicks Off Friday, Fisher Survivors to Share Stories


Relay for Life Kicks Off Friday, Fisher Survivors to Share Stories

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. this Friday, March 23, St. John Fisher College’s student organization “Colleges Against Cancer” (CAC) will host the 11th Annual Relay for Life in the Student Life Center. The 12-hour event will run through 7:00 a.m., Saturday, March 24, and aims to celebrate, remember, and fight back for all those who have been affected by cancer.

To date, over 240 participants have registered and over $9,400.00 has been raised! One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Susan Schultz, Program Director, M.S. Special Education and Associate Professor, will be the featured survivor speaker during the Opening Ceremony.  In 2005, Schultz was diagnosed with ovarian sarcoma, and had a re-occurrence in 2007. According to Schultz, ovarian cancer affects about 1% of the population and she had the rarest form.

“It is kind of like winning the reverse lottery,” she said.

She spent 36 months getting chemotherapy treatments every three weeks over a five-year period, underwent a biopsy, and had three surgeries. While she has been in remission for three years, she continues to have monthly appointments to maintain her mediport, which is a catheter implanted for chemotherapy infusion. 

“The experience of having cancer has made me appreciate what is important in life, balancing and spending time with family and friends, and my career. One of my teacher candidates joked and said that I am doing well because of my students, but there is some truth to that,” said Schultz. “I have always been career-oriented and have worked hard to make sure that my teacher candidates succeed, and I want to be here to guide them. I've tried to make every moment count and, although it sounds like a cliché, not sweat the little stuff.  I have to admit that I've chosen gardening over dusting, and kayaking over mowing the lawn!”

Reflecting on the time she spent in chemotherapy and hospital settings over the last five years, Schultz recalls the number of people she has befriended who have since lost their fight with cancer. She says the relay is an important event that stands for making progress in the ultimate battle against the disease.

Student Erin Beitz was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a blood cancer, in January 2009, during the middle of her sophomore year in high school. She had chemotherapy treatments every few weeks for nine months, and missed her second semester of school. At the end of September 2009, an MRI showed that the tumor was completely gone, and she was officially in remission.

“Having cancer, and going through the treatments has made me so much stronger. I know now to live every day to its fullest because it is true that anything can happen to anyone at any time,” said Beitz. “Life throws so many curveballs, and I have learned to deal with them head on. I feel now that I can handle anything I am faced with.”

While this will be Beitz’s first Relay for Life event, she says she loves everything that the relay stands for and represents. She will be the featured survivor speaker for the Luminaria Ceremony.

“It is such a good cause, and it is important that everyone knows exactly what cancer is, and the toll it can take on the people diagnosed with it,” she added. “Everyone, everywhere, is affected by this horrible disease, and it is not fair. Relay is a step towards finding an answer to these problems.”

This year’s relay theme is the World’s Biggest Birthday Bash. Each hour will represent one month of the calendar year, and participants whose birthdays fall in that month will be eligible for prizes. The event will also include live entertainment by Big Tuna & The Fisherman, Jake George, Measure 13, and others. In addition, there will be a Duct Tape Contest, Cake Boss Tournament, Miss Relay competition, and a frozen t-shirt contest. Food will be provided by Lackmann Culinary Services.

New to this year’s event is a VIP Survivor Area, complete with door prizes and other special extras for the survivors. Participants who register and raise $80 will have exclusive access to another VIP Room in the Varsity Gym that will offer additional snacks, beverages, and a bounce house!

Students are encouraged to register with a team or create their own team and to register online.

The 2012 St. John Fisher College Relay for Life is being co-hosted by the American Cancer Society. For more information about the Relay for Life, contact Catherine Fafone or Sam Kelly, co-chairs, by emailing

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