Cancer survivor thankful for cancer

Published 1:47 pm Monday, March 24, 2014

By TONY NIVENS / Community Columnist

Attendees of the recent Relay for Life Cancer Survivors Dinner, held at Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea, were treated to an ironic message. Guest speaker Donna Pate spoke about hating cancer but learning to be thankful for it.

“I had other struggles in life before cancer but none hit you quite as hard as that diagnosis,” said Pate. “Yet, cancer’s struggles help develop character and dependence on God. The uncertainty of what will happen makes you appreciate life more.”

“We had 70 people,” said Chelsea Relay chairman Casey Morris, “including 35 survivors. We were proud to have two 30-plus year survivors. They are an encouragement to other victims of possibilities.”

“They also make me more thankful for my life. They have been battling cancer longer than I have been alive,” marveled Morris.

That is the message of Pate’s speech. Things she hated about cancer, she came to appreciate. Treatments were terrible but she is thankful for their development. The too-often clinic visits created appreciation for the relationships there. The terrible diagnosis brought her into a larger family.

“It’s like you become a member of this large family of caring when you share your diagnosis with Relay,” said Morris. “People from all over are praying for you and encouraging you.”

“The Survivors Dinner creates awareness for our Relay event,” said Morris. “And the Relay is how we raise money for the American Cancer Society.”

Chelsea and South Shelby combined for the dinner. Columbiana’s Mayor Handley challenged Chelsea: Which city can raise more money this year? The payoff is dinner at Johnny Ray’s for the winning mayor’s family, paid by the losing one. The dinner is in the winner’s city so they collect the taxes.

“I thought it was really neat to see Chelsea and Columbiana come together to support this cause,” said Miranda Carter, owner of Johnny Ray’s Chelsea.

Carter was the first chairman of the Chelsea group when it grew large enough to create our own Relay three years ago. She has great hopes for this year’s event.