Cancer survivors marched in a Survivors Mardi Gras Stroll Tuesday night at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Sherri James Annual Survivors' Banquet. -- Katie Wood
Cancer survivors marched in a Survivors Mardi Gras Stroll Tuesday night at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Sherri James Annual Survivors' Banquet. -- Katie Wood

Survivors the icons of Relay for Life

Published 9:57pm Thursday, April 18, 2013

“A party with a purpose.”

That’s what Tanya Miles, events chair for the Dallas County Relay for Life called this week’s Sherri S. James annual Survivors Banquet held at the Carl Morgan Convention Center.

The banquet served as one of the kick-off events for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life effort in Dallas County and was centered around celebrating life.

“The purpose is to uplift our survivors. We do this to celebrate their life, the fight that they’ve fought and continuing to fight,” Miles said. “We do this to lift them up and let them know that God is able, and to let them see that although they’ve been given this awful diagnosis with this demon of cancer, look at all the survivors around you. It helps them to persevere on just another day.”

As cancer survivors and caregivers walked through the doors of the convention center Tuesday evening they were draped in multi-colored Mardi Gras beads.

“We’re going to New Orleans right here in the convention center,” Miles said. “We do the Mardi Gras theme and do the Mardi Gras line dance. It’s just a big hoopla for [all the survivors] and they really look forward to it.”

Before the party was over, cancer survivor Jean Massey spoke and encouraged all of the other cancer survivors in the room to stand.

More than half of the room stood and announced their name, what type of cancer they had overcome and for how many years — ranging from almost 30 years cancer free to just three weeks free of cancer — each receiving an overwhelming applause.

The evening ended with the coronation of Clanrence Lee and Menia Smith as the banquet’s king and queen.

The couple then led the Survivors Mardi Gras stroll to the song, “Do What You Want,” around the convention center.

Miles said the night was an important reminder of the need for cancer research and the need in Dallas County.

“We look forward to presenting [this banquet] to celebrate [our cancer survivors]. It is important to do because they’ve gone through some things, and to be able to still be standing is outstanding,” she said. “There’s a need here in Dallas County. It’s very important to me that we help and care for our cancer survivors and our cancer patients. Here in Selma we have a cancer center, but our people can’t get chemo treatments here. They have to travel to Prattville, Montgomery or to Birmingham. All the monies [raised through Dallas County Relay for Life] come back to our county.”

Miles closed the banquet with a reminder to everyone to attend this year’s Relay for Life, which will take place Friday at Wallace Community College in the gymnasium.

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