Relay For Life participant turned cancer survivor encourages participation
George Cox has been supporting the Kaw Valley Relay For Life in Bonner Springs since its inception in 2003.
He and his wife first began participating at the event because a good friend’s son had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Kaw Valley Relay For Life Schedule
5 p.m. – Silent auction and luminaria sales begin; Kidz Corner, bounce houses and concession stand open; survivor dinner
6 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
8:30 p.m. – Luminaria sales end
8:45 p.m. – Messages to heaven
10 p.m. – Luminaria Ceremony
11:45 p.m. – Closing ceremony
“This is my one event of the year that I really love doing; I enjoy doing it every year,” he said.
But despite his long experience attending the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, two years ago, he saw the relay through a new set of eyes. In February 2013, he went in for a prostate biopsy, and was officially diagnosed with prostate cancer two months later.
“Before I saw it from a participant’s standpoint, and now I’m seeing it from a survivor’s standpoint, and it’s a whole different perspective,” he said. “You get to talk with survivors and see what they went through.”
Cox didn’t miss the 2013 relay despite his recent diagnosis; he said he faced his cancer with determination.
“At first I was disappointed, but I just said, ‘I’m not going to let it defeat me. I’m going to go in with a positive attitude and get it taken care of,’” he said. “I wasn’t going to quit and I wasn’t going to give up.”
Cox had a prostatectomy in July of 2013, when he learned that the cancer was Stage 3. That was followed by 35 radiation treatments, and so far, the cancer has not returned.
“I found out it ran in the family because a late uncle had prostate cancer, and I have a nephew who’s 10 days older than I am, and he had prostate cancer back in 2008,” Cox said.
Cox also discovered he had several friends who had had prostate cancer, something men often don’t want to discuss, and unfortunatly also has friends who didn’t catch the cancer before it has spread to other ares of their bodies. Cox has taken it upon himself to bring the conversation about the need for prostate exams into the light.
“Now I go around telling men, ‘Hey, it’s no joke; you need to get this done,’” he said. “The longer you keep putting it off, watch you don’t know can come back to bite you in the you-know-what.”
He also tells people of the importance of Relay For Live events.
“It’s a worthwhile event; a worthwhile cause,” he said.
This year’s relay, set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday at David Jaynes Stadium at Bonner Springs High School, will have a different format than in previous years. Instead of a 12-hour event that goes through the night, this year’s relay will end at midnight.
The Survivor Dinner preceding the relay will begin at 5 p.m. at Clark Middle School. Also, in the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors to Clark Middle School.
Teams have again organized events throughout the evening that are open to the public, including a frozen T-shirt contest, musical chairs, alligator wrestling and more. The Kidz Corner also provides activities open to the public.