Janie Livingston, Edie Stone and Mike and Deborah Turner sat around a table Saturday and shared their stories of overcoming cancer.
“When you discuss what you’ve been through, I believe it’s part of the healing,” said Stone, a breast cancer survivor since 2007. She was among about 80 people, including 45 survivors, at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Survivor Dinner at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Livingston, who had uterine cancer, is selective when she talks about it.
“I don’t talk about it with family. When I’m around other survivors, I talk about it,” said Livingston, who shared her story with the entire group after everyone had finished eating spaghetti donated by Vinny’s Pizza.
As they shared the meal together, they talked about what they’d gone through.
Livingston’s uterine cancer was discovered after she had trouble conceiving a child. She visited a fertility specialist who found the cancer. She had a full hysterectomy with no chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
“I’ve been cancer-free since 2010,” she said.
Deborah Turner tells a different story.
She is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her first diagnosis came in 2000, not long after meeting her husband, Mike. She’s gone through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Her cancer recurred more than a decade after the initial diagnosis.
She lost her voice, and doctors discovered that not only were the vocal cords on the right side paralyzed, there was something suspicious showing up in her scans. The cancer had recurred in her breast and spread to her liver and lungs. After more chemotherapy, Deborah Turner is doing well, and she has her voice back.
“Everything looks good,” she said.
While the three women talked about their battle with cancer, Mike Turner talked about things from a different perspective.
“The worst thing for the caretaker is that we can’t do anything,” he said.
Most of the people attending the North Augusta survivor dinner live in the North Augusta and Midland Valley areas. The dinner is held annually prior to the Relay for Life fundraiser, which will be from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday at North Augusta High School.
Twenty-six teams have signed up to participate, said Kristin Bodkin, chairwoman for the dinner and the Relay for Life event.
Despite the reduction in hours, some of the signature pieces of the event remain in place. There will be a survivor walk and opening ceremony at 6 p.m. There will be a luminaria ceremony around 10 p.m. Other activities during the night include a guitar pull and the Ms. Relay pageant, featuring men as the pageant contestants.
Bodkin said the teams would continue to raise funds during the night. The goal is $35,000.
“We are well over half way there,” she said.