Mary Morrison has a lot for which to be grateful.
This month, the Charlottetown native celebrates 37 years of being cancer-free.
Nearly four decades ago, Morrison went to the doctor after she had a bleed while using the washroom. The X-ray results came back showing nothing was wrong.
Putting it out of her mind, Morrison went on with her life.
A year later, the mother of two was experiencing problems suggesting that something wasn’t right.
She returned to the doctor, only this time the news was grim: colon cancer.
“They found a tumour the size of a grapefruit,” she said.
A week later, Morrison underwent surgery where the doctors removed 18 inches from her colon. This seemed to do the trick, and she didn’t require any more procedures or treatments.
The cancer itself wasn’t painful, she said.
“The thing about cancer is, you don’t get sick. You get sick from the stuff they do to you, surgery and chemo and stuff like that,” she said. “The surgery was the worst part and after that I’ve been fine ever since. Aren’t I lucky?”
Morrison was one of about 30 survivors who took part in the annual UPEI Relay for Life at the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre Jan 19.
“I love to come to these events,” Morrison told The Guardian during the survivors’ reception before the relay. “I especially like to tell people about my 37 years (cancer-free) because not all of them are that long and it’s hopefully an encouragement to them.”
Emma McDermott, committee chairwoman and fifth-year biology student, said the event consisted of more than 150 students, faculty and members of the community, who gathered to raised money for the Canadian Cancer Society. She was confident they would reach their goal of $25,000, surpassing last year’s goal of $20,000.
“This is one of our bigger years; we’re really excited,” she said.
Funds raised go towards world-class research, local supports and services, cancer-prevention initiatives, wigs for patients and more.
Along with the relay aspect of the event, where at least one member from each team is on the track at all times, participants enjoyed entertainment and activities, including swing dancing, a dodge ball tournament, minute-to-win-it games and a special luminary ceremony where candles were placed in fireproof bags around the track.
“(They are) to honour and symbolize those that we have lost as well as those who have survived,” McDermott said. “It’s definitely an emotional experience, big time.”
Today Morrison, who will soon turn 78, keeps busy as a crossing guard and spending time with her grandchildren.
“When I think about it, I’m so grateful,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to be here for my kids, and here I am with my four grandkids and I’m so happy about that.”
5 facts about the relay
1 - Relay For Life is an inspirational, non-competitive, fundraising event that brings you and your community together to celebrate life, honour and remember loved ones and unite in the fight for life.
2 - Relay For Life has a festival-like atmosphere that your family, friends and co-workers can enjoy regardless of age or fitness leve.l
3 - Teams of 10–15 people fundraise individually and as a team to help the Canadian Cancer Society save lives and support those who are facing cancer.
4 - At relay, teams gather with cancer survivors at their local track, stadium or sports field and take turns walking laps. Each team keeps at least one member on the track at all times, while all around them the party is in full swing.
5 - Teams are united to enjoy music, food, activities and entertainment and to celebrate life.
SOURCE: Relay for Life UPEI