Maggie Filson was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago. It was a tiny lump that the doctors wanted to watch. Filson insisted that they remove it immediately. “I’m not a watcher,” she said.
She managed to avoid having chemotherapy and took shots for five years as her treatment after that. She has had 33 different kinds of skin cancers mostly on her face and back. She is going in for Mohs surgery for the skin cancer on her cheek area. “So I’m a 16-year-survivor,” she said.
She also has a family history of cancer. Most of her siblings have fought cancer. Her father had cancer. Most of her father’s siblings have also fought cancer. Her paternal grandfather also had cancer. “So cancer is rampant in my father’s side of the family,” she said.
This life experience is where Filson’s passion for leading Relay For Life comes from. Relay For Life is a fundraising event for cancer that took place on the Macoupin County Fairgrounds in Carlinville Saturday. Filson hopes to “raise funds to help the cancer survivors get back and forth to appointments, for lodging, wig banks, and to raise awareness.”
One of the places the cancer patients can stay is called the Hope Lodge in St. Louis. They can stay there for free when the funds are arranged. This is why fundraisers like Relay For Life are so important.
At Relay For Life this year, they have twelve teams involved and 67 people registered at the time of the interview, but they were hoping for more same-day registration. It was Filson’s 16th year being involved with Relay For Life, not always leading the group but also walking. As chair of the fundraiser this year, she said that putting together teams and getting volunteers was one of the most difficult parts of organizing. Filson has been the chair seven out of her 16 years participating.
Filson’s favorite parts are probably the Luminaria Ceremony and the Survivor Lap. The Survivor Lap entails having the survivors walk a lap, then the caregivers add to the pack, and then the providers. Then the sponsors join the group for a lap. The sponsors include Carlinville Area Hospital, New Wave Communications, Walmart, St. John’s Hospital, and Illinois “E” Trail Dusters.
The Luminaria Ceremony involve people writing the names of people they want to honor on white paper bags, whether they are survivors or those who have passed. The organizers put glowsticks in the bags and read every name on every bag. Each bag costs $10, and one can write one or more names on each bag. “It’s really emotional,” she said.
Two years ago, Filson shaved her head in honor of survivors with Tonya Loyd and Christy Boehler. That is just one of the fundraising tactics people can use to raise money for Relay. Each team is able to raise money through bake sales, trivia night, yard sales, and 5K walks.
The organizers also host a survivor dinner. They have dinner and show a film from past events. A survivor and caregiver always talk about their journey with cancer. They hold drawings and let people go up and speak. The survivors let the audience know what they are going through, so that new cancer survivors can know what to expect.
Saturday night, the group of people did several laps, played games, and participated in drawings for giveaways. The Fight Back ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment we make to finish the fight. A Fight Back poem will be read.
“We couldn’t have Relay without volunteers like Maggie Filson,” said another volunteer, Kim Brogden. “Without the volunteers, without the teams, we wouldn’t have Relay.”
Source: Relay For Life Raises Funds For People Battling Cancer Relay For Life Raises Funds For People Battling Cancer
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