Cancer survivors walked the first official lap in the York County Relay for Life on Saturday at the Wells High school track. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Cancer survivors walked the first official lap in the York County Relay for Life on Saturday at the Wells High school track. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

WELLS — There were more people than ever wearing purple T-shirts on the field this year, at York County’s Relay for Life. 

More purple, said organizer Karen Lawrence, means there are more cancer survivors.

Those wearing purple, signaling their survivor status, their friends, family members, caregivers and others were walking laps around the Wells High School track on Saturday, raising funds to help fight cancer  in its various forms. 

Ailia Haig left, and her aunt, Danielle Griffin, right, walk the track at Wells High School Saturday in the American Cancer Society's York County Relay for Life. They are walking for Danielle's husband Michael, who died of cancer in 2012. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Ailia Haig left, and her aunt, Danielle Griffin, right, walk the track at Wells High School Saturday in the American Cancer Society’s York County Relay for Life. They are walking for Danielle’s husband Michael, who died of cancer in 2012. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Among those taking part was Sanford resident Ethel Mathieu, a slight woman with a lot of energy wearing a vivid purple T-shirt.

Who was she walking for?

“Me!” she said. “I’m a 24-year survivor.”

Mathieu is in treatment now, in her third go-around with cancer.

“I’m going well,” she said.

So is Kathy LaPointe of Wells, who was treated for Stage Four rectal cancer that metastasized to her liver and her lungs. Four surgeries and untold rounds of  chemotherapy  and radiation later, she spoke at the opening of the Relay for Life as an inspiration to others. She’s been a survivor for seven years.

“Cancer brought many changes to my life,” LaPointe told the crowd on the field near the track shared by Wells Junior High School and Wells High School. “The best change so far has been  the Relay for Life. The first lap (around the track) I walked there was such a feeling of support and togetherness, it will stick with me forever.”

She pointed out her nephew Chris Ross, who is a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Now 23, he was 18 years old when he found a lump in his neck and was diagnosed, he said. The North Waterboro man underwent chemotherapy and radiation, only to have the cancer return two months later after that initial go-round, and so treatment continued. He is marking his third year as a cancer survivor.

According to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life website, by this morning, the York County team had raised about $60,900 of its $75,000 goal. Those who wish to contribute may do so on the American Cancer Society Relay for Life website.

Among the teams on the field were members of the Sanford Elks Lodge, handing out information about a license plate that would generate funds for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. In order to initiate the special license plate, 2,000 folks must sign-up for one. After that number is reached, the plates will be made and available to everyone. The program can provide as much as $200,000 annually for the hospital, according to a fact sheet.

Walking around the track Saturday were Danielle Griffin of Biddeford and her niece, Ailia Haig of North Waterboro. Griffin said she was walking in memory if her husband Michael, who died of lung cancer in 2012.

“I’ve walked every year since,” she said.

Brothers Robert and Raymond Jean, who is a 10-year cancer survivor,  and a number of their relatives and fiends were walking in memory of  their sister, Priscille Jean of Biddeford, a 15-year cancer survivor who died three years ago.

“Priscille was sure the money raised from this event played a part in extending her life,” said Robert Jean, who will be walking next Saturday as well — he is a chairman for the Midcoast Relay for Life event in Camden.

“She really believed in the Relay for Life,” he said of his sister. “She taught us all so much.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: