Worth Tomlinson Rotary Park in North Wilkesboro was filled Friday night for the annual Relay for Life celebration on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

The event, which celebrated 2019 fundraising efforts, highlighted the efforts of Wilkes County’s 24 Relay for Life teams, said Stephanie M. Langford, community development manager for the charity. Many of the teams had booths at the event, continuing their fundraising efforts in the fight against cancer.

As of Friday, Relay for Life in Wilkes County is less than $10,000 short of its $100,000 goal, she said. Fundraising efforts will continue until Aug. 18.

“Much progress has been made, but much more is needed,” said Arnold Lakey, this year’s chairman for Relay for Life in Wilkes. Lakey welcomed those in attendance at the 6 p.m. opening ceremony.

Denise Greene, past president of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club and a breast cancer survivor, was the keynote speaker. “My story is about God’s timing (and) how you have to wait on it,” she said.

Greene said she had been schedule for a regular preventative mammogram, but found a lump in one breast during a self-examination. She called her doctor, who scheduled a diagnostic mammogram at Wilkes Medical Center (WMC).

Dr. Jack McLarney, a radiologist with WMC, did a biopsy and Green was diagnosed with “invasive ductive carcinoma grade 3” of the breast, an aggressive variety.

The ball got rolling very quickly, Green said, beginning with a surgical consultation just five days after her diagnosis. The doctor told her a double mastectomy was in order, followed by reconstruction done by a plastic surgeon, and that “he was putting me on the fast track.”

This was at a time when her daughter was a senior in high school, with prom, graduation and college in the near future. Green said she took her daughter out to dinner, where she told her what was going on.

She said the “breast cancer surgery came off without a hitch.” This was followed by 16 weeks of chemotherapy.

Greene said she walked into the room at the medical clinic where she was going to begin her chemo, looked around at her fellow patients and felt she was different. “They looked sick (and) didn’t have any hair.”

She said she didn’t want chemotherapy because she knew she would lose her hair, that she would appear unwell.

“Me and Jesus talked every day,” Greene said. She said Jesus told her, “I was on public display, hanging on that cross. Who are you?”

She said this daily prayer got her through. “My Jesus suffered a whole lot more than I would suffer,” Green said.

She encouraged other sufferers to hold onto a relationship with Christ, “whether it’s time to go” or not.

Greene’s address was followed with the annual survivor and caregiver lap around the Rotary park. Those walking were led by 2019 Relay for Life committee cancer survivors, who carried a banner. This was followed by a cancer survivor balloon release.

The event concluded with the lighting of nearly 3,000 luminarias bought in honor of cancer survivors or in memory of cancer victims.

The top fundraising team was Necessary Battle/Steel Magnolias, which brought in nearly $24,000, Langford said.

Musical entertainment was provided by the First Light Praise Team, Copper Creek, the Doug Davis Band and deejay Jody Brown. Tonya Wentz Dance also performed.

Other Relay for Life teams included Cato Fashions, Cruisin’ for Susan, Cruising for a Cure, Falcons for Hope, First Light Church, Keeping the Promise, Millers Creek United Methodist Church, Circle of Friends, Moore’s Angels, Moravian Falls Elementary School, Novant Health Wilkes Medical Associates, Patty’s Promise, Roger Cox, Royal Knights, SECU Fat cats, Sharing the Flame, Strides of Hope, Survivors for a Cure, Sustained by Faith, Traphill Elementary, Wake Forest Baptist Health Care at Home, Wilkes County Public Library and WFBH Wilkes Medical Center.

Langford emphasized that anyone wanting to be involved in Relay for Life fundraising or to be a member of the volunteer team can contact her at Stephanie.morris@cancer.org

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