Upshur County Relay for Life celebrates 25 years

BUCKHANNON — On Saturday July 16, Upshur County’s Relay for Life celebrated 25 years of providing support, fundraising and more! The event was held at Jawbone Park from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. It was complete with games, food, raffles and entertainment.

The event started as 6:30 p.m. with a survivor lap, caregiver lap and first lap. Teams were present to sell items to raise funds. Fun games and entertaining activities were also available to those in attendance, including a pizza walk and a Crazy Hat Contest! In addition to walking laps, some chose to dance or participate in a kick boxing class held by April Small. The Brass, Rhythm and Sax Orchestra performed for the crowd on stage.

The fun and fellowship continued throughout the night. At dusk, a luminaria service concluded the event. Relay for Life states, “Darkness is symbolic of the fear that a patient feels when diagnosed. After sunset, we light the luminarias to remember those we have lost, to celebrate cancer survivors and to show those affected by cancer that they are not alone.”

Many attended the event, including cancer survivor and Buckhannon native Shanda Hoover. Hoover was pleased to share her cancer survival story and thoughts on Relay for Life. Hoover said, “At 33 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on September 24, 2015. I endured five months of chemo and then went through two surgeries within a few months after treatments. I am now taking a hormone blocking medication daily, as well as an injection in my stomach monthly as part of our plan to keep the cancer from returning. That hormone treatment is for 10 years and I am now halfway through.

“The news of cancer in 2015 completely turned my world upside down. My children were 6- and 9-years-old. I was just told that I had an aggressive type of cancer that quickly grew from stage 2 to a 3 within a few weeks of being diagnosed. For the first couple of weeks, I was devastated, but being the positive person I was, I couldn’t stay stuck there. I rested in the fact that I knew I was being held by God and he would carry me through. He was and is so much bigger than cancer.”

“Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had always supported cancer research, but never attended Relay for Life. A few folks from Relay reached out to me the summer after my treatments and surgeries and asked me to share my story at the Relay Survivor dinner. I was so very nervous, but everyone (survivors and caretakers) were all so welcoming. One thing I notice and love about Relay are the caregivers or those on the board who have not had cancer. Their love, patience and support mean more than they even know. They are part of the reason that we keep going! A few months before being diagnosed with breast cancer I prayed to God several times that He would deepen my faith. My prayer was answered, but not in the way that I imagined. God will always take what is bad and use it for good. Since fighting cancer, I have published a book on Amazon titled, “The Mountains We Climb.” I tell of my journey through cancer in hopes that it helps someone going through their own battle with this dreaded disease,” Hoover shared.

Robin Oldaker, Chairperson for Upshur County Relay for Life, and others shared the sentiment of joy in having a “normal” Relay for Life event, as the past two years’ events were modified secondary to COVID-19. To become a sponsor, create a team or volunteer, go online to or contact Oldaker at [email protected]


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