Relay for Life: Miss-Lou gathers for fundraiser

Published 12:02 am Saturday, May 6, 2017

By Christian Coffman

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Sandy Dunn has been involved with Miss-Lou Relay for Life since 1996.

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Her previous involvement was through her church, Highland Baptist, but this year she attended with a new perspective — cancer survivor.

Dunn was diagnosed with Stage 2 lobular carcinoma last July and has had a double mastectomy and finished her radiation. 

She will be going to her doctor in May to discuss a final surgery for implants.

“It’s wonderful, being at the end of this,” Dunn said. You think it’s never going to end.”

When she first heard the news of cancer, Dunn said she was devastated.

“You’re mad at everybody at first, but then very quickly God takes over and gives you peace, she said. “I couldn’t have done without my church family reassuring me. When you finally accept it, that’s when you can move one. You either fight it or you give into it.”

Dunn said she and her husband, Terence, attended Relay to witness for God.

“I know God gave me this journey for a reason, so that if someone else is going through this same thing I can help them.”

Despite the stress of cancer, Dunn said she has learned a lot about life, radiation and just how much her friends would support her.

“I like to give and give and give,” Dunn said. “I’m not used to receiving.”

Dunn works at Vidalia Lower Elementary School, and she said her co-workers have supported her through the thick of it all. 

Dunn hopes to go back to work in August.

Terence said although the first few months were tough for them, he was always there to calm his wife down. 

“It’s part of what I married her for, for better or worse,” he said. “You know, she gets down, I’ve got to be there for her. That’s part of why I love her.”

Terence said residents should contribute to the Relay for Life if they can.

“You never know if it’s going to be you. None of our families have a history of cancer,” he said.

Fran Christie, a friend of the Dunns, attended Relay Friday with the couple.

Christie is a survivor herself and has been involved with Relay for 10 years, and has battled cancer for the past five years.

“It started out in my colon and it spread,” Christie said. “My main strength was my friends standing behind me.”

Christie said 50 percent of the battle with cancer is one’s own attitude.

“If you don’t have a good attitude, then you will not make it,” Christie said. 

Along with her sons and co-workers, Christie’s pastor, the Rev. Bo Swilley of Community Chapel Church of God in Natchez, would come by when she was at her lowest point and pray with her.

“He really stood by me, he would walk by and see me, and he knew I was having a bad day,” Christie said. “When he leaves, you don’t have a choice but to be lifted up.”

Christie is cancer-free at the moment, though she is still going through some tests.

Elizabeth McGlothin has been involved with Relay for 14 years. Her husband, however, has been dealing with cancer since 2010.

McGlothin’s husband, former Ferriday mayor Glenn McGlothin,  was unable to attend Relay this year.

McGlothin’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010 and again with prostate cancer in October of 2014. He beat colon cancer,  but the battle with the prostate cancer is still ongoing.

“We went for a routine check-up and found out about the colon cancer,” McGlothin said. “Our doctor, Dr. Gregg, immediately got him in for surgery and was able to get it all. He saved his life.”

The prostate cancer came as a total shock.

“He didn’t have any symptoms,” McGlothin said.

In December 2014, McGlothin’s husband had TIAs, or minor strokes, so doctors could not perform the surgery to remove the cancer. Instead of surgery, Glenn started radiation in February 2015.

“He did eight weeks of radiation five days a week,” McGlothin said.  “It was stressful for him, but he continued to work the whole time for the City of Vidalia as the mayor’s assistant.”

For McGlothin, Relay is very emotional at times.

“A lot of people in this area are affected by cancer,” she said. “Just get out and make a donation, eat, walk, play a game. Do whatever you can to support the cause.

“It’s not only affected me personally, but our sheriff’s office,” McGlothin said. “We’ve had several employees and their families who have experienced cancer. It’s important for us to be here.”

The Miss-Lou Relay for Life began in 1995 to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Participants, including survivors and those whose lives have been affected by knowing those with cancer, walk around a track at Relay in memory of those who have died or in support of those who have survived or are being treated for cancer.

Teams collect money during the event through food and activities which will go toward funding cancer research.