Cancer is a disease that plays no favorites. It is apathetic to age, race, marital status or income bracket. It destroys families, drains bank accounts, tears healthy bodies apart and sometimes leaves nothing in its wake except devastation.
The friends, family and loved-ones of cancer victims are often left with unanswered questions and mental anguish. They question doctors, nutritionists, and government …sometimes even local city councils in search of answers.
Unfortunately cancer is a mysterious, deadly disease that oftentimes has no remedies or answers. Sometimes there is nothing left to do but grieve.
But on one special day, the Apopka community comes together on a high school football field to fight this disease. They raise money for cancer research, but they also come together to celebrate the cancer survivors and honor those that did not survive. Friends, businesses and churches form teams, spend the day together and walk the quarter mile track in a walkathon styled event called “Relay For Life”.
They laugh. They cry. They dance. They fellowship. They come together to fight cancer.
And they remember.
This year 38 teams, and 354 official participants participated in the Apopka Walk of Life at Apopka High School yesterday. They raised over $25,000 for cancer research for The American Society.
But why do they do it?
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Armando Borjas was a firefighter for 14 years with The Apopka Fire Department. Before that he was a Marine. In 2011 he was diagnosed esophageal cancer and died in 2013. As they have done before, the Apopka Fire Department walked in full firefighting gear in memory of the fallen firefighter and their friend.
At 51 yrs old, Hilda Andrade felt unusually tired all of the time. After dealing with this exhaustion, she decided to see a doctor. He gave her prescription medications, but the condition continued. She went for a second opinion, had endoscopic and colonoscopy testing – which came out negative.
But she still felt bad.
Then she called her cousin (who is a physician), and explained her symptoms to him. Her cousin told her to have an abdominal Cscan performed. That test revealed a spot on her kidney. It was later confirmed by MRI that Hilda had kidney cancer.
“One of the reasons that kidney cancer is not discovered on time is because people aren’t as persistent as I was,” she said. “I was determined not to live rest of my life taking antacids and using pump inhibitors.”
It is that persistence that makes Hilda a 13-year cancer survivor, and the leader of The Inspire Warriors – one of the 38 teams competing today.
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Monica Scandlen was diagnosed with Leukemia back in 2013, when her wonderful doctor decided to do additional testing. Thankfully she was diagnosed early enough to continue the fight and is a part of a Relay for Life Apopka team today.
Monica's Mavens was created to provide her with additional love and support, letting her know that her friends would not allow her to fight alone. No one should fight alone.
Monica not only has her loving family (including her 7-year-old daughter) backing her up, but she has all of The Mavens and many others who are so blessed to call her a friend. The Mavens won the fundraising title with donations of $3861.
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It is because of these three stories and hundreds like them that so many Apopka residents attend, participate and donate to The Apopka Relay for Life event.