Local cancer survivor encourages others at Relay for Life


BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Relay for Life held their annual Relay Event on Saturday at Jawbone Park. Cancer survivors and their families gathered to honor one another with prayer, music, testimonies, and walk in a luminaria ceremony.

Beginning the event, Relay for Life Chair Robin Oldaker recognized Buckhannon native Tiar Heckman, their youngest local survivor. At just 6 years old, this Union Elementary student bravely fights cancer, and inspires everyone around her.

Oldaker applauded and recognized all survivors as she encouraged the crowd, “This is your victory. We know it is a hard-fought battle, some of you are fighting that battle right now. For that, we appreciate you coming out.” She then led the group in prayer.

Tina Eddy touched the hearts of everyone in attendance as she shared her story, bravely battling kidney cancer since last November. “Because of COVID, most of it was done by myself. My appointments and tests were done with my mother in the car, my spouse at home, my children at home, and I was alone,” Eddy explained.

In March, she reportedly had surgery to remove her left kidney. After complications with her surgery, Eddy had to receive blood transfusions to survive. “The cancer and the surgeries almost took my life, but here I am today. I pushed myself to recover as hard as possible. I refused to not get out of bed,” she told Relay participants.

In April, she was told she is in remission—the doctors removed all of the cancer. Eddy expressed, “I’m a survivor, a conqueror, a mother, a daughter… but I am not a victim. Cancer isn’t a death sentence, but a life sentence. It tells you that you have to push for your life. That’s what we have to do, push as hard as we can.”

Following Eddy’s testimony, Donna Foster sang beautiful music as everyone in attendance walked with candles to honor cancer survivors and victims—their names displayed on illuminated lanterns around the park.

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