Relay for Life: Battling cancer with teamwork

Groups combine to fight disease
Jun. 02, 2013 @ 01:25 AM

Numerous teams and local businesses met at Patriot Park Friday and Saturday to make this year’s Relay for Life a success. 

One such team is “The Monkeys,” whose motto is, “We Don’t Monkey Around; We Fight Cancer.”

For the past eight years, The Monkeys have been active participants in Sevier County’s Relay for Life.

Team Leader Kay Williams, a 37-year cancer survivor, exemplifies the team motto. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29, she firmly believes in the importance of early detection.

While many health practitioners recommend that women have their first mammogram at age 40, Williams thinks the age should be lowered. “If I had waited that long, I wouldn’t be a 37-year survivor,” she said.

Like many other survivers, Williams believes a positive attitude kept her going. “She’s an example. She doesn’t slow down for curves,” said friend and teammate Judy McCarty. “Or speed-bumps,” added Williams.

“If you find out you have cancer, you automatically think, ‘I’m going to die,’ and it’s not true.” Williams said. “It’s the fear of cancer that would have killed me, not the cancer itself.”

When her daughter found a lump on her breast a few years ago, she kept it from Williams for about a month. “She said she was afraid it was cancer. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s the fear that gets you. It turned out that it was just an infected gland.”

Now employed as a sales representative, Williams uses the contacts and resources she has obtained to benefit The American Cancer Society. For $1 per ticket, Relay attenders have a shot at winning one of the 45-50 baskets she puts together each year.

“I”ve even had people call to ask if we’re doing the raffle this year,” said Williams.

In addition to the baskets given away through the raffle, Williams also made twenty baskets to be awarded to silent auction winners. “I have many friends and business who donate because they know it’s going for a good cause,” she said.

I always felt like I survived for a reason, and this is part of it,” she said.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com