Keeping cancer conversation in forefront important part of Relay for Life mission

Evelyn Hollander
Posted: Jun. 12, 2014 9:04 am Updated: Jun. 26, 2014 10:15 am

By STEVE EIGHINGERHerald-Whig Staff Writer

Evelyn Hollander has developed a new love of life in the past 16 years.

That comes with being a cancer survivor.

Hollander has been in remission since 1998 but admits a flip side exists to the silver lining that she so greatly appreciates.

"I'm in better health now than when I was younger, but there is always that thought that when something pops up ... could it be a recurrence (of cancer)?" she said. "I had a small cyst on my foot, and my doctor reminded me the necessary precautions had to be taken.

"You just deal with it."

Hollander will be one of hundreds on hand Friday at Flinn Stadium for the annual Adams County Relay for Life cancer awareness event. The relay begins at 6 p.m. and continues through 6 a.m. Saturday.

The Relay for Life always carries a threefold theme -- to create awareness, raise funding for cancer research, and remember friends and family members who have died from the disease.

Hollander, who underwent six cancer surgeries, is a part of this year's Relay for Life committee, and she likes nothing better than to caution others against excessive exposure to sunlight in the summer and remind them to get regular checkups.

She has made the rounds in the past week to get this message out, appearing on both local television stations and doing guest spots on Quincy radio stations. She spent time Tuesday on the air with Bruce Rice and Jim Taylor on WGCA-FM.

The 2013 Relay for Life raised $93,902. The event has generated more than $1.7 million to fight cancer since its 1994 inception.

The record raised through local Relay for Life efforts came in 2011, when $160,000 was donated. That broke the old record of $115,000 in 2010.

Bobbi Wellman is another local cancer survivor who is in her 17th year of remission.

"Actually, I'm a two-time survivor," she said. "I had a recurrence last year."

Wellman likes to talk about her personal trials and her belief on how important it is to keep cancer conversation out in the open. That, she said, helps create more awareness and aids events such as Relay for Life.

"Talking about cancer is much more open than it used to be," she said. "It used to (be treated as) a deep, dark secret."

Wellman said it is difficult to explain the feeling of walking among cancer survivors on the Flinn Stadium track.

"It is awesome," she said. "There is a real camaraderie, and you feel special. You feel blessed."