Sisters share more than blood

Staff writer

Marion County Relay for Life had an atmosphere of hope Saturday at USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center. Thirty-seven cancer survivors, all in purple, kicked off the relay with a victory lap.

Two survivors shared more than cancer. Anita Hooper and Jan Peter from Marion are sisters.

Hooper is a seven-year survivor of thyroid cancer. Peter has been in remission from lymphoma for two months.

“It’s a worthwhile cause,” Peter said. “It’s encouraging to see all the survivors.”

This is the first year Peter has participated in Relay for Life. Neither she nor Hooper were on a team, both came for the support.

“The American Cancer Society was so supportive,” Peter said. “I couldn’t believe all the information I received from them. Once a week they have a survivor call me just to talk. It really boosted my morale.”

Peter said she struggled when she was first diagnosed.

“It’s encouraging to know you can interact with people who have survived and to use this opportunity to network,” she said.

Hooper said the ACS did so much for her, that she takes every opportunity to give back. She has been participating in Relay for Life since 2005.

“It’s such a good cause,” she said. “All the money goes into cancer research. Now that cancer is again hitting close to home, I want to do what I can.”

Survivors could network over a free barbecue dinner. Coordinator Melissa Easterberg said 11 teams raised over $23,000 leading up to the relay.

White paper luminaries with names, love notes, and memories of those who did not survive cancer, lined the track.

Teams set up booths and handed out information, sold bracelets and other items, and played games. Last year teams raised $26,200.

Tootsie Snelling of the Burns Pacers was selling rubber bracelets with sayings of hope inscribed on them.

“The different colors represent different types of cancer,” she said, “black means lung cancer, pink, breast, and orange for lymphoma.”

Snelling has been participating in Relay for Life for five years.

“I had two sisters who fought cancer,” she said. “I do this in honor of them.”

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