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Guest Editorial: Relay For Life draws near; help still needed

The July 12 East Otter Tail Relay For Life is getting closer, and we need your help.

Specifically, we hope you can help us in three ways:

-Most importantly, we want more teams.

-Secondly, we ask you to send your nominations for Honorary Relay Co-Chairs for 2013.

-Lastly, we want your nominations for the Employer of the Year award.

These do require some effort, so why would you do these? How does it benefit our community?

A few weeks ago, a local woman required a breast exam for cancer. But, lacking insurance, could not afford it. The SAGE program, which provides these exams for low-income women, paid the cost. Her cancer was identified at an early stage, and she is being successfully treated.

The American Cancer Society was instrumental in getting SAGE enacted. This is just one example of the many tests, treatments and services provided by the American Cancer Society.

Let’s look at some facts about cancer in Otter Tail County from 2012.

First, cancer is the leading cause of death in Minnesota. In our county, there were 363 cancers diagnosed; 136 deaths were attributable to cancer – a mortality rate of 36 percent, which is somewhat greater that the national average of 32 percent. We have work yet to do, but it’s a lot better than the 88 percent mortality rate that existed in 1912 when the American Cancer Society was formed.

What has our local American Cancer Society done to help?

It provided cancer-related services 998 times.

Twelve cancer patients stayed 398 days in Hope Lodges in Rochester and Minneapolis while being treated. It provided 48 days of motel lodging for those being treated at sites where there was no Hope Lodge.

It helped caregivers, too – 285 times.

We provided 26 patients free transportation by our volunteers to treatments – some of them requiring multiple rides to treatment centers.

Our 24-hour-a-day help service (1-800-2278-2345) was used 1,599 times by county citizens.

We provided 10 free wigs and 31 other prosthetic devices to cancer patients.

We have the state’s largest Survivor’s Dinner, we have a presence at health fairs, we do a wide range of Relay For Life activities, and distribute information to the public.

There’s more, but space limits their inclusion.

Your help can make our main fundraiser, the East Otter Tail County Relay for Life, expand to even more services to those who need them.

The heart of each relay is its teams. The more teams we have, the more fun and meaningful our event becomes. Any group of about 10 people can form a team – a family, friends, business, club, church, etc. It’s easy. For more information, come to our next team captain’s meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 3 at the Perham High School, or call or email me at 346-5352,

Each year we select two local cancer survivors to be our Honorary Co-Chairpersons. They represent all our county’s cancer survivors at all Relay For Life activities. Nominations can be sent to LeRoy and Ruth Wegscheid at 47169 County Highway 54, Ottertail, MN, 56571, or call 367-2571.

Finally, each year we select from a list of nominees a local employer as Employer of the Year. This is one who, when having an employee with cancer, makes extraordinary efforts to make recovery easier for the employee. Again, contact Ruth and LeRoy with nominations. We already have a great relay – one that consistently ranks at or near the top of all relays in the Midwest for counties our size. We are proud of our relay, and proud of our citizens.

With your help, we can make this year’s event even better.

By Ron Anderson East Otter Tail Relay For Life Publicity Chair