Relay for Life is a powerful force against cancer | In Our Opinion

If you participate in Relay For Life, you are on the front lines in the battle against cancer.

Relay For Life South Kitsap took place on June 2. Relay For Life Bremerton/Central Kitsap took place on June 24-25. Relay For Life of North Kitsap begins at 6 p.m. July 14 and continues until noon July 15 at North Kitsap Stadium, 1780 NE Hostmark St., Poulsbo.

Every year, our local Relay For Life events raise tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. As you read this, Kitsap people like you are raising money in a variety of ways for Relay for Life.

And they are making a difference.

Thanks in part to funds raised by Relay For Life events nationwide, the American Cancer Society has spent more than $4 billion in research for a cure and has about $500 million in research grants in effect today. The result: In 1946, 25 percent of cancer patients lived at least five years after diagnosis; today, that rate is 60 percent.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 14 million people in the U.S. who have had cancer will celebrate birthdays this year — thanks to progress in early detection and treatment.

Money by Relay For Life supports local services, as well as research leading to cures and improved quality of life.

Money raised pays for hotel discounts for people who must travel for treatment.

Money raised supports Look Good Feel Good, which helps women being treated for cancer learn special cosmetic techniques to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer and its treatment.

Money raised supports Road to Recovery, which provides rides to and from treatment for patients who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

Money raised supports Reach to Recovery, a program that matches patients with volunteers — many of whom are cancer survivors — who can provide a measure of comfort, emotional grounding and assistance is making informed health decisions.

Money raised supports the National Cancer Information Center helpline — 800-227-2345. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So, join Relay for Life and make a big difference. Walk the track in honor of a survivor. Light a candle in memory of someone who has passed on. Know that you are making a difference. And know that you are not alone: Relay teams are comprised of former and current cancer patients, those who have lost a loved one to cancer, as well as families, businesses and civic organizations.

(Relay For Life is also a celebration of life. The events feature contests and, in the North Kitsap event, a performance by a noted Elvis impersonator.)

To get involved locally as a team member or volunteer or to make a donation, go to www.relayforlife.org. Or contact Betty Petersen, bettyrelayforlifeNK@yahoo.com.