Making a difference
Speaker relates effect of relay efforts in area
By Paul Keane
An emotional and heartwarming trip through the past year for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society was the main element of Thursday's Kickoff Luncheon for the 2003 Relay for Life.
Annice Tyree-Barnhill, area director of the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society, gave the keynote address during the luncheon held at First United Methodist Church. She informed attendees of the many things done by volunteers and ACS in Escambia County this past year.
"If I were to title my talk today, I would have to call it, 'Have You Seen Me?,'" Tyree-Barnhill said. "I would just like to take you on a trip of where I've been this past year, and many of you made these trips with me."
She said that more than 1,200 "Tell A Friend" contacts were made in Escambia County over the past year, and that 38 women attended a "Look and Feel Better" session where professional cosmetologists help perform makeovers for women going through cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. She also pointed out that 84 visitors attended "Man to Man" sessions involving prostate cancer, that 75 people attended "I Can Cope" sessions in the county and 162 people were at "Bosom Buddies" meetings.
Tyree-Barnhill then pointed out some of the more personal contacts she and volunteers had during the year.
"You went with me to take a book entitled 'My Mom's Got Cancer' to a school in Escambia County," she said. "The reason the book was needed was because a school counselor called us and said they had a sixth grade student that was struggling with questions about her 30-year-old mother having cancer.
"You were with me when we got a call, because we are the American Cancer Society, from a mother asking us to send someone over to tell her young children that she was dying. She didn't know how or if she could tell them, so she needed us there to do it.
"And you were there with me when we gave a woman a wig because she had embarrassed her children one day when she answered the door and forgot that she didn't have any hair because of the chemotherapy treatments. To you, it was just a wig, but to her it was life and respect."
Tyree-Barnhill also pointed out that volunteers helped give out red pillows that look similar to a shoulder bag or purse. Those are used by patients who have undergone procedures such as lumpectomy's that cause tenderness under the arms and on the sides of the torso.
"I have gotten so many blessings because of the many volunteers in this county," she said. "But there's still more that we can do in the years to come.
"Right now, in this room today, one of every two men and one in every three women will have to deal with cancer at some point during their lives. But, every year, have you noticed there are more survivors at the Relay for Life events? That's because programs funded by Relay are making a difference in this community."
This year's event is scheduled for May 16 at Tom Byrne Park. The theme for this year's event is "Cancer doesn't take a vacation." Southern Pine Electric Co-op is once again serving as the corporate sponsor.
To date, 13 teams have signed up for the Relay event. This year's goal is $145,000, a 10 percent increase over the amount raised last year.