The bags were purchased, and dollars raised also went into the Relay for Life Fund. They were set up in alphabetical order in the Trademark Building, and cancer survivors and caretakers paraded around them during the Survivor Walk.

The American Cancer Society welcomed more than 600 people to Relay for Life at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on Saturday. Despite weather conditions forcing the event to move from Cabela’s, a huge turnout resulted in massive donations for cancer research.

The event began with more than $109,000 already raised. But a goal was set to raise $140,000 by the time the event concluded at 10 p.m. Relay for Life ultimately reached that goal, raising a total of $142,611.

“That’ll make a big difference in the lives of those that have cancer,” said Megan Pratt, Southern Region Staff Partner with ACS.

Pratt said numerous registered teams fundraised for ACS with vendor booths at the event. Teams offered everything from food and drinks to t-shirts and crafts. She said every dollar raised at the event goes directly to Relay for Life.

Memorial bags were set up in memory of those who lost the fight to cancer and in honor of those still fighting. The bags were purchased, and dollars raised also went into the Relay for Life Fund. They were set up in alphabetical order in the Trademark Building, and cancer survivors and caretakers paraded around them during the Survivor Walk.

Cancer touches so many people in some way, whether it’s a personal diagnosis or that of a loved one, or perhaps a family member who lost the fight. Almost everyone in the community has felt the effects of this deadly disease in one form or another. At Relay for Life, survivors and caretakers told their stories and highlighted the far-reaching effects of cancer.

Courtney Taylor gave her testimony on her daughter, Paisley, being diagnosed with leukemia. Taylor described her daughter as a “free-spirited soul that has one of the biggest imaginations.”

Paisley is the baby of two other kids. She said her daughter was not acting like herself, and doctors feared the worst.

“The days leading up to her diagnosis, we had observed Paisley complaining of joint pain, constantly tired, and then finally becoming very pale,” said Taylor.

Taylor said she and her husband assumed their daughter was simply going through growing pains until things got bad enough to take her to the doctor. Unfortunately, Paisley was diagnosed with cancer on her birthday, May 2, nearly two years ago.

“All I could focus on was what was going to happen to this young, small soul who still had the rest of her life to live,” said Taylor. “So, our journey began, countless needles, chemo treatments, blood transfusions, holidays spent in a hospital bed, and uncertainly of what else was coming.”

Following the diagnosis, the family reached out to people for information and prayers. She said support came flooding in from the community in prayers, messages, and words of hope. Taylor said she found shoulders to lean on during this challenging time.

“Up until this point, I knew a few people from our area had been hit with this terrible disease, but I had no clue how they dealt with it, especially for those that it had affected their child,” said Taylor.

With the support from friends and family, they adopted a slogan to for Paisley’s treatment, Fight Like A Girl. The idea was that no matter how bad Paisley was hurting, tired, or just not herself, she would keep fighting. Today, Paisley has been in remission for about a year, although her chemo will continue for a few more months because of the type of cancer she has.

“She is a survivor, a survivor that fought day in and day out,” said Taylor.

Taylor said the experience has changed Paisley and their family forever. She said to this day when she hears of a child diagnosed with cancer, she immediately reaches out to the family and offers her support, just as so many did for her two years ago.

Event leaders noted while some of the funds raised at Relay for Life go towards national cancer research efforts, many of the donations support local resources here in the area. In 2017, Ascension Parish residents spent 377 nights at Hope Lodge, an ACS partner that houses cancer patients undergoing treatment. Just those nights total over $56,000 in savings for patients and their families.

Twelve patients from Ascension Parish stayed at the Hope Lodge while recovering from treatment. Two of those received eight rides to treatment in the Hope Lodge van. Two patients stayed eight nights at an ACS hotel partner.

Ten participants took part in the Look Good, Feel Better program. Nine different patients received wigs. Seventy-one people accessed the personal help manager made available through ACS. Seven people participated in the research to recovery program, and 94 resource referrals were provided for 29 patients.

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