Meridian Star

April 29, 2013

Relay reception honors survivors

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Honoring the men and women who successfully wage a courageous fight against cancer is an important way to inspire others who are still in the fight. So says a volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Lauderdale County, Cathy Raley, survivorship chair.

    "Survivors is what Relay for LIfe is all about. When we have a survivor it means that Relay is working," Raley said. "The research that we are working toward is for having more survivors."

    Raley and other Relay volunteers held a survivor's reception on Sunday at the Hamasa Temple Shrine where more than 250 people packed the house.

    This comes just days before the 2013 Relay For Life of Lauderdale County is scheduled. It will be held Friday beginning at 6 p.m. at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium.

    "We cannot wait for Friday night. We want to walk all night for our survivors because that's what Relay is all about. It's about survivors and research," Raley said.

    Among speakers Sunday were Paul Ott Carruth and his daughter, Carla Carruth Tigner, both of whom are breast cancer survivors. They share their experiences with audiences throughout the country, offering encouragement.

    "We were scared to tell our stories at first because we thought nobody wanted to hear our personal stuff, and second, sometimes we're afraid of the emotions that we evoke, not only in ourselves but in others," Tigner said. "But once you realize that there might be one person in here that needs to know today that they can get through their treatment or there might be a caretaker here that needs to know that somebody else went through what they are going through. If you can supply that one little bit of glimmer and hope for somebody, it was worth it."

    Carruth said it means a lot to him to be able to share his experiences because it can help save lives.

    "Nine out of 10 men who have breast cancer die of it because men don't get their breasts checked," Carruth said. "If I get a scratch. I get checked and fortunately mine was necrotic, which is the medical term they use to say it was dead — that the blood supply to it had cut off. I have a better name for it — divine intervention."

    It has also made him more aware of the important things in life, he said.

    "My wife died of ovarian cancer 30 years ago, then my daughter had it ; then I got it. I learned that life is very fragile and I learned how much it means for family to stick together," Carruth said. "I've learned, more than anything else, about the power of prayer. You're looking at a miracle right here."    

     Relay For Life of Lauderdale County raised more than $330,000 at last year’s event and is recognized as the No.1 Relay event in the state of Mississippi, the No. 8 Relay event in the Mid-South division of the American Cancer Society and in the Top Ten Relay events per capita in the United States. The event supports the American Cancer Society research, advocacy, education and patient support programs.