Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Polk County Relay For Life

Last week was extremely hectic. The Relay For Life was scheduled for Friday evening. Gina and I spent the week getting things ready for the big event. All week we kept a wary eye on the weather forecast. We decided that we would have to make a decision on what to do by Thursday. Thursday morning the forecast was for rain Friday and Saturday with the possibility of severe weather Friday evening. We knew that there would be no outside in the park event this weekend. The Christian Motorcycle Association allowed us to rent their large multipurpose building at their Iron Mountain Campground a few miles south of Mena. Because we had to change venues at the last minute we worried that the Relay might not be well attended, but our community made us proud. Attendance was excellent.

Relay For Life 2010

Friday morning I was awake early trying to figure out the logistics of moving the Relay. We started setting things up at about 10:00 A.M. Gina and Lisa figured out a way to outline a small track in the building to be used for the Relay laps. All of the teams had to set up around the track. It was very crowded and some of the teams were two deep around the track but we managed to get everyone in.

The Relay started at 6:00 P.M. with the boy scouts posting the flag as Susan Brewer sang the national anthem.

Flag Ceremony

Susan Brewer

After short talks by Gina and Mayor McKee, the Survivors kicked of the Relay by walking the Survivor Lap.

Survivor Lap

The next group to be honored was our Caregivers. They play such an important role in the battle against Cancer. My wife, daughter and granddaughters walked in this lap.


After the Caregivers have made their laps, the teams each took a lap around the track. We had 21 teams present representing 382 people who had signed up for Relay to help in the fight against cancer.


BoardCamp Baptist

When the team laps were completed, anyone who wanted could walk the track. Each team is supposed to have a team member on the track. While everyone was walking we were listening to top notch entertainment from local bands Muzzleloader, Lana Gail McDonald & StormRider, Weird Harold & the RubberBand, HindSight, Katie Beth Head, and Richie Owens & Six Mile Creek. The musicians were great and really go into the spirit of Relay. Here is a video of a lap around the track while Jerod, the lead singer of Muzzeloader came down of the stage and sang while walking with the Relayers.

Here in this video Vinnie Lee, guitarist for Weird Harold & The RubberBand, takes a lap with the Relayers while playing lead guitar.

The youngest entertainer of the evening was my granddaughter Autumn. She came all the way from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with her Mommy and her sister to attend Relay For Life. She wanted to sing, and when you are in charge of an event one of the perks is allowing your granddaughter to sing. She sang Jesus Loves Me.

All of the teams had food and activities throughout the evening. Our team had a jail set up where you could have a Sheriff Deputiy arrest and handcuff someone if you paid a dollar. It cost five dollars to get out of jail, or you had to stay in jail for ten minutes.

At 9:00 P.M. the celebration of the last three hours quieted down and the Luminaria Ceremony began. The Luminaria Ceremony is the opportunity for people to come together to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those who have won their battle. This is one of the most moving parts of Relay For Life. The Luminaria line the track, and the name of each person represented there is respectfully read from the stage. Jim Huff read the names while Richie Owens and Bear Barton played softly in the background as people looked for that special Luminary that honored their loved one.

Luminaria Ceremony

Luminaria Ceremony Lap


Luminaria 2

After the Luminaria Ceremony the party that is Relay For Life starts once again and continues on through the night. At this time most of the people from the community who have come to enjoy the evening have left for their homes and just those who are on a Relay team are left. As it gets later we lose some participants, but at 6:00 A.M. Saturday morning we still had 14 teams circling our track. That is a record for the most teams to spend the night at a Polk County Relay For Life. At the 2007 Relay, the first one held in Polk County, there were only two teams left when morning came. To help keep ourselves awake and entertained during the night we had special theme laps such as Pajama Lap, Bell Lap, Stuffed Animal Lap, Cowboy Lap, Blanket Lap, Crazy Hat Lap, Wheels Lap and many more. Everyone seemed to enjoy the theme laps and some of the teams got very creative.

Stuffed Anilmal Lap

Crazy Hat Lap

Cowboy Lap

There were people circling the track all night long, but not everyone was able to stay awake. Even Gina took the time to take twenty winks on her cot that her sister Lenora bought for her to take to Relay. Because I had to keep the theme laps going I wasn't able to get a nap in. Some slept on the hard cement floor.

Sleeping Beauty


When morning came it was time for everyone to take down their booths and clean their area. By 9:30 the building was once again empty and there were no signs of the crowds that had been there for the evening or the die hard team members that had spent the night. Relay For Life was over for another year. Even with the weather and a change of venue it was very successful. Polk County has raised over 50,000 dollars for the fight against cancer. It had been a Hard Days Night, but I find that working for such a worthy cause and knowing that is it important to so many people makes me feel alright.

Fight Like A Girl

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

You may have a friend who knows someone who knows someone who had a brother-in-law who used herbs to cure his cancer. Or a buddy who followed a detoxification diet and cured his heart disease. And so on, and so on. We’ve all heard or read the stories about miracle cures, and they can be very compelling — especially if you have a potentially life-threatening disease like cancer. But stories about amazing cures aren't proof that a treatment works.

There are a number of non-traditional treatments that can complement traditional cancer care and help you feel better. But there are also alternative treatments that can be harmful; so, before trying anything new, talk to your doctor.

The American Cancer Society considers complementary medicine and alternative medicine to be different from one another. Most physicians do, too:

Alternative medicine is used instead of standard or mainstream medical treatment, often with negative outcomes for the patient. Alternative therapies are either unproven because they have not been scientifically tested, or they have been tested and found not to work. They may cause the patient to suffer because they are not helpful, because they can delay the use of proven methods, or because they are actually harmful.

Complementary medicine is used along with mainstream medical care. If carefully chosen and properly used, some complementary medicines or therapies can help relieve certain symptoms of cancer, relieve side effects of cancer treatment, or improve a patient's sense of well-being – all of which can improve your quality of life. Examples might include meditation to reduce stress, peppermint or ginger tea for nausea, and guided imagery to help relieve stress and pain during medical procedures.

In contrast to alternative therapies, most complementary mind-body methods are extremely safe. Some cancer treatment centers and clinics now offer something called integrative therapy, which is simply the combined use of proven mainstream treatments and complementary methods.

More and more doctors and scientists are now studying complementary therapies and medicines with the same careful methods used to study drugs. Results from many of these studies have been published in reliable, mainstream medical journals. As more of these studies are completed, patients and health care professionals will be able to make even better decisions about these treatments.
Complementary therapies to consider

Here is a partial list of complementary methods that some people have found helpful when used along with standard cancer treatment.

Acupuncture: An important part of traditional Chinese medicine, this technique involves inserting very thin needles into the skin at specific locations called acupoints in order to treat a number of symptoms. While there is no evidence acupuncture is an effective treatment for cancer, it may help with mild pain and nausea associated with cancer treatment.

Aromatherapy: Inhaling or applying fragrant substances to the skin may help patients cope with stress, chronic pain, nausea, and depression.

Art therapy: Creative activities may help people express emotions and deal with physical and emotional problems.

Biofeedback: This is a treatment method that can help a person gain control over physical processes that are usually controlled automatically, such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, sweating, and muscle tension. By giving a person a greater awareness of bodily functions, biofeedback can help a person regulate or alter other physical functions that may be causing discomfort.

Massage therapy: Studies suggest massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue in cancer patients.

Music therapy: This therapy is offered by trained health care professionals who use music to promote healing and enhance quality of life.

Prayer and spirituality: Spirituality is generally described as an awareness of something greater than the individual self. It is often expressed through religion and/or prayer, although there are many other paths of spiritual pursuit and expression.

Tai chi: An ancient Chinese martial art, tai chi combines movement, meditation, and breathing to improve health and well-being. It has been shown to improve strength and balance in some people.

Yoga: This is a form of anaerobic exercise that involves a program of precise posture and breathing activities. In ancient Sanskrit, the word yoga means "union."

Even though these practices are considered safe, always talk to your doctor and/or health care team first.

Signs of cancer treatments to avoid:

* Those that promise a cure for all cancers
* Those that tell you not to use standard medical treatment
* Those that claim to offer benefits with no side effects
* Those offered by only one person or clinic
* Those that require travel to another country
* Those that use terms like "scientific breakthrough" or "miracle cure"
* Those that offer stories of amazing results, but no scientific evidence
* Those that attack the medical or scientific community

Friday, April 9, 2010

Relay For Life will be April 23,24


The 2010 Polk County Relay For Life will be held at Janssen Park on Friday, April 23 starting at 6:00 P.M. and going on through the night until 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in our community a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at Janssen Park and take turns walking around the track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relay is an overnight event.


Relay starts with a Survivor Lap, an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories we’ve achieved over cancer. The Survivors Lap is an emotional example of how Relay participants are creating a world with more birthdays like those of each individual on the track.

Richie Owens and Six Mile Creek

There will be live entertainment, food, fun and games during the evening, with all proceeds going to the Relay For Life. After dark, we honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence.


No matter who you are, there’s a place for you at Relay and you can make a difference by attending this powerful event. Thanks to Relay participants, we are creating a world with more birthdays.