WOU fights back to defeat cancer

Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Emily Mentzer
April 8th, 2014


MONMOUTH — Rebecca Philippi, chairwoman for Western Oregon University’s Relay For Life, lost a good friend to leukemia on Valentine’s Day 2012.

“She is one of the main reasons that I got involved in this cause,” she said — but not the only reason.

Her aunt had breast cancer, a grandfather had lung cancer, and another grandfather is battling skin cancer.

“Almost everyone in the world knows someone who has been touched by cancer, whether it is a family member, or a friend, a co-worker or even a pet,” Philippi said.

Saturday, 131 students will walk laps at WOU’s New Physical Education building, celebrating survivors of cancer, giving hope to those battling the infliction, and remembering those who lost the battle to the disease.

The event is a College Relay For Life, so it is not the traditional 24 hours in length. It runs from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.

Philippi said college events are shorter because many students do not have enough free time.

Relay events benefit the American Cancer Society. So far, students have raised $3,421 online, not counting cash and check donations collected over the last couple of weeks, Philippi said.

The evening will be filled with games and music — mostly by student performers — and includes a Survivor’s Lap, a Fight Back Ceremony and a Luminaria Ceremony. Luminarias are in remembrance of cancer survivors and those who have died from cancer.

One of the more light-hearted events is Mr. Relay, a pageant where guys dress up in drag and try to collect the most money, Philippi said.

Games will include limbo, jeopardy and ultimate twister.

People can still sign up to participate at relayforlife.org/wou, or they can get involved by donating money to the American Cancer Society.

“Cancer affects everyone,” Philippi said. “It has already taken so much from us; I don’t want to give it power to take anything else. This is our way to fight back.”

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