BRAWLEY — To call Gene Francis a survivor would be an understatement.
Francis, who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had three parts of his stomach affected and has undergone hours of chemotherapy, he said.
But for the past six years Francis survived the illness thanks in part to the support he received from his family, he said.
“That’s when I knew I was going to beat it,” Francis said of his family.
Francis was one of a number of cancer survivors Saturday who joined in the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life event at the Cattle Call Park here.
Twenty-eight community-based teams participated in the 24-hour effort to raise not only $100,000 but to heighten awareness that “cancer never sleeps,” said event coordinator Ron Gomez.
The Relay for Life event in Brawley, now in its 10th year, started at 10 a.m. Saturday and is expected to end today at the same time, Gomez said.
“We’ve been doing this a long time here,” said Gomez, who explained that the party-like atmosphere of the life-affirming event carries on throughout the day.
“It stays up all day,” Gomez said excitedly. “Very energetic.”
Cancer survivors wearing purple T-shirts and holding hand-written cardboard signs about how long they — or a loved one — has made it braved the midday heat when they walked around the park area where a number of tents were set up.
While there was no real change to this year’s event Gomez referred to the luminaria ceremony that was slated to take place at night.
Walking a full two laps would be close to a mile, said event chairwoman Kim Herinckx, who got the festivities going by wearing a big hat and other colorful attire.
“Most of these people will walk close to 30 miles today,” Herinckx said.
Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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