Locals lace up for 2012 RelayThe American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life of Pierce County gears up for the big event happening March 23-24 at the River Falls High School. As part of the event each year, the Relay selects a few people to serve as honorary event chairpersons; they are cancer survivors who tell the amazing stories of their journey.
The American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life of Pierce County gears up for the big event happening March 23-24 at the River Falls High School.
As part of the event each year, the Relay selects a few people to serve as honorary event chairpersons; they are cancer survivors who tell the amazing stories of their journey.
Meet the honorary chairmen for the 2012 Relay:
“Hello, my name is Ariel Avestruz. My family began partaking in the Relay for Life event seven years ago after my brother, Arne, passed away from cancer only six weeks after his diagnosis. Only three years later I found myself in my own battle with non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma.
Chris Blasius, Relay for Life Committee Chairperson, asked if I would be interested in being an honorary chair for this year’s event. I hesitated at first, but realized that it would give me the opportunity to recognize all the support that was given me and my family and to give thanks to all those involved in this great event to fight against such a terrible disease.
I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma after experiencing what I thought was indigestion that escalated into some major abdominal pain. The doctors found a number of tumors throughout my torso with the largest covering most of my abdomen.
That started a 2 ½ month chemotherapy regimen that had Debbi and me going to the Mayo Clinic early in the morning for tests and scans, also meeting with my doctor for the results and then going to the infusion center for a cocktail of five chemo drugs every two weeks. Every session took me lower and lower, both in body and mind.
I’ve been in remission four years now, going in for my checkups every three months. Follicular lymphoma is treatable but not considered curable. But I have time: Time to be with my family, time to tell them I love them, time to have fun, time to enjoy the little things, and time to give thanks.
We learned a lot about what it means to receive such wonderful support from family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. And the Relay for Life takes that to a whole new level pursuing “Life” with the advancement of cancer treatments and the ultimate goal of a cure.
I am honored to be chosen to speak at the Relay for Life to such a great community and to represent all survivors and those that have passed.”
“Hello, my name is Vince Thomley. I’ve worked in River Falls for the past 14 1/2 years, employed by Foley United. I had lived here in River Falls for six years and currently live in Hammond with my wife and two kids.
In May, I will be a 24-year survivor. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1988, when I was 19 years old. At that time I and all my friends thought cancer was an older person’s disease, so of course in their minds I was dying. I never had that thought of dying though. The support I received from my family was amazing!
At one of my doctor visits they told me I had a 95% chance of never having kids. I turned that into a 5% chance of having kids and luckily my wife and I have two! I bowl in River Falls and have bowled in many tournaments in the Midwest and across the United States; competitors many times have told me “You’re the luckiest bowler I know.”
Well they don’t know how lucky I truly am. I’m very fortunate to be able to watch my two kids grow up.
I became involved with the Relay for Life 10 years ago. Relay for Life gives me a way to help and give to others so they have a better chance to survive. I’m proud to talk to other survivors who are surviving their battle with cancer. It is very rewarding.”