“Making the world a sweeter place, one survivor at a time”

June 27, 2012 Editorial Staff
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Cancer survivors were the celebrities of the day on Saturday, June 23 when they came together for one common cause: to show that they are winning the battle against the disease.

For 13 years, the southwest Brooklyn Relay for Life has been an inspirational event where survivors gather and rejoice at each victory they have achieved over cancer.

This year was no different. Relay of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights took place at the Fort Hamilton Athletic Field. It started with a Survivors Lap – in which survivors were invited to circle the track and support one another. Throughout the day, family members and anyone who has been touched by cancer walked around the track continuously to remember their loved ones who are no longer with them.

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“Cancer never sleeps, and neither do we until we find a cure,” remarked Nancy Colt, the director of special events at the American Cancer Society (ACS). Planning for Relay, Colton explained, began in February.

Lamina Bouzaglou, a special education teacher at Fort Hamilton High School, believes that “every day is her birthday.” After being diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, and losing a nephew to lung cancer, she has learned to live every day as if it was her last.

“We’re survivors for a reason,” Bouzaglou added. She looks forward to being a grandmother in the near future and having her own cooking show. Cooking is her passion, as well as dancing, which she finds it very therapeutic.

Caregivers were also celebrated at the Relay for Life. Marlyn Bristol, the department manager at the American Cancer Society, was praised for her big heart and compassion towards patients. “They’re going down that road and need someone to hold their hands,” Bristol commented. For the last 20 years, she has provided moral support and arranged all that needs to be done so that patients are at ease.

George Franzese, founder of Andean Mountain Coffee, LLC, and a sponsor at the Relay, was handing out free coffee to the attendees. Franzese said that 50 percent of the proceeds were being donated to ACS. Also, $1 for every bag of coffee bought at the event was given to ACS.

For Brenda Alexis and Marie Tomlinson, friends for many years and breast cancer survivors, the Relay serves them as an opportunity to discuss their disease and learn about it from others. Tomlinson — a member of the NYPD — was diagnosed in 1999 with ovarian cancer, and despite the fact that she had three surgeries in a span of six months, she continues to speak to a lot of people and “spread the good news about being alive.” Tomlinson thinks her humor gets her through on a day to day basis. “Life goes on,” she happily said.

“There are two things in life that nobody can take away from you, your birth certificate and your death certificate,” Tomlinson added. “It’s between those two what you make of it.”

In all, $100,000 were raised by the all-day event. Perfect DJ Entertainment provided the music.

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