Teams rally to fight cancer

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By Bryan Marshall

Judy Jackson, a teacher at Crittenden-Mount Zion Elementary, has been a part of Relay For Life for six years.

She began after a push to get every school in the county involved.

“Our team is not as strong as it used to be as far as people involved because education is a hard field to be in,” Jackson said. “But, I still relay because we still need to find a cure for cancer.”

Like most people, Jackson has seen the devastating effects cancer can have.

Her mother died of colon cancer and her 21-year-old nephew died from melanoma.

Jackson’s brother also recently went through treatments for prostate cancer.

“I feel better now knowing that they have more things to treat it with,” she said. “With my mother, I think she put things off. I think she just thought she was aging. When they found the colon cancer, she lived two more years after the surgery. After she got it again, they tried some chemo, but it didn’t slow it down.”

When her nephew was diagnosed in 1977, Jackson said he did not live long.

“They found out in February and he died in April,” she said.

While she is team captain of the Crittenden-Mount Zion Elementary team, Jackson also is a member of teams organized by Elliston Baptist Church and the Flatcreek Elliston Club Homemakers Club.

This year, the three teams are collaborating and will share two campsites.

“We tried having three different campsites and three different themes,” Jackson said. “I would be crazy trying to do stuff for all three teams. So, this year, we’ve kind of teamed up.”

Jackson said this will be the first year for her that Relay For Life takes place while school is not out for the summer.

So, after teaching all day on a Friday and being up all that night, she and others will have to be back in school on Monday morning.

Despite the lack of sleep, Jackson said she is looking forward to the event, especially seeing the amount of cancer survivors.

“It’s kind of like a celebration,” she said. “Every year it seems like we have a few more walking in that first survivor’s lap. Maybe, that’s a good sign that more people are making it through and getting through the treatments and not having relapses.”