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Survivors, family walk to fight cancer

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Christy Hodges, representing Team Bob Maxwell, walks laps inside Currituck County High School during Relay For Life, Saturday.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, June 25, 2018

Christy Hodges keeps a brisk pace while walking for the Currituck Relay for Life, but every year she carries more names with her – more names of people who are battling or have died from cancer.

So the march continues.

Hodges, of “Team Bob Maxwell,” joined dozens of other walkers for Saturday's Relay For Life, held Saturday inside Currituck County High School. The fundraising event moved indoors due to rain, organizer Kimberley Ward said, as dozens of walkers did laps through the school instead of on the track.

During her walk, Hodges explained she starting walking for her father, who died from lung cancer in 2008. Every year ahead of the Relay For Life, she said her mother, herself a cancer survivor, sends out letters asking for donations toward the relay, which contributes to cancer research and prevention through the American Cancer Society.

When those donations come in, people also often ask for prayers and support for their own friends and family now facing cancer, she continued.

“Every year there's a new name,” Hodges said.

Hodges said she first marched hoping for a cure for cancer, but now she also walks to raise awareness. Many cancers are preventable or easily treated if detected early, she said.

“We have to take better care of ourselves,” Hodges said.

Another walker, Brenda Miller, had similar thoughts. Miller is a breast cancer survivor, and she urged people to regularly get checkups and screenings, especially for breast cancer.

“Early detection is so important,” she said.

She also explained some people, like her family, are genetically predisposed to certain cancers. That means it's important to get genetic tests so they can start preventive measures.

Marlene Glisson, affiliated with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said she's lost her mother, uncles and more family to cancer over the years. She urges people to lobby their lawmakers, both state and federal, to support funding for not only cancer research, but preventive medicine. Medicare needs to better cover screenings and checkup procedures to help older Americans detect and treat cancer, she explained.

Another Relay participant, Suzanne Bobola, said she's lost her husband and many other family members to cancer – often due to environmental factors. She said her husband, a Naval officer, was exposed to carcinogens in the water at Camp Lejeune.

She explained her faith has left her at peace with his passing, but also said, “I'm going to keep going until there's a cure.”

Ward said she hoped to have 100 walkers for Saturday's Relay, but she said weather may have impacted turnout. She also said the event has unfortunately been shrinking over the years, something she attributed to the many different charitable causes people are asked to support over a year. They set a fundraising goal of $40,000, but they might not hit it, she said.

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