The Relay For Life kicked off its 19th year on Saturday with a survivor walk. Cancer survivors from the community wore a yellow T-shirt and looped around the track at Prince Rupert Middle School.
The 12-hour walk raised more than $121,000, pushing past the 2016 goal of $90,000. The night before, a Jail ‘N Bail event outside the CIBC, raised some last minute funds. It cost as little as $20 to have someone arrested and placed in jail.
There were several bands on site throughout the day, a scheduled time for head shaving and hair donation and the event closed off with the chilling luminary ceremony. Participants wrote the name of a loved one on the bag, weighed it down with sand, and placed a candle in the middle. There were luminaries lighting up the track.
Too Tired To Be Inspired/Sheryl’s Warriors team raised the most funds at $17,976 with the CityWest Tumornators a close second at $16,648.
There were many supporters and survivors at the relay and Iain Cullen was one of them. The owner of Farwest Sports has always been a picture of health. He doesn’t smoke or drink, he plays squash, spins and other activities.
Shannon Lough/The Northern View
Iain Cullen is a cancer survivor and participates in the Relay For Life event in Prince Rupert.
In 2007, his doctor convinced him to get his prostate-specific antigens (PSA) checked. For men after 40, it’s recommended that they get their PSA checked to establish a benchmark.
“Once you get it done and it’s 0.12 and then that’s a benchmark and you go from there. Next year if it’s 4.3 well you know something has happened. Let’s take the next step,” Cullen said.
When Cullen’s PSA levels started climbing his doctor sent him to Vancouver for further testing.
“When he phoned me, whoa, that was a tough day I tell you when he said ‘listen you’ve got cancer and we’re going to have to deal with it’,” Cullen said. He had an aggressive form of prostate cancer but it was all contained.
The screening for his PSA levels allowed his doctor to catch the cancer in time. Cullen had a radical prostatectomy, he didn’t require chemotherapy, radiation or any medication following the surgery. Six weeks later he was playing squash.
He gets his blood checked every six months to monitor his PSA levels and he encourages other men to do the same. He has a friend in Terrace who is battling prostate cancer that has spread.
“I try to talk to a lot of people and tell them what I went through just try to tell them what my experience was and go that route,” he said.
Before Cullen was a cancer survivor, he was an ardent supporter after his wife, Laurie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She had a lumpectomy and chemotherapy. He said he doesn’t want to see anyone go through chemo again after watching his wife lose all her hair and struggle with pain from the toxins going into her body.
Lighting the luminaries at the relay is a memorable moment for Cullen.
“You cry as you walk around because you know most people, it’s a small community. You know most of them who have done it or have gone through it,” he said.