Relay is in the Genes
Most of the Arizona State University campuses around the Valley are hosting a Relay For Life event during the spring. Relay For Life is an all night fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society.
For Daun York, participating in at least one of them is a tradition. As a cancer survivor and a team captain, she will again join the Williams Gateway Relay For Life event held at ASU's Polytechnic campus on April 21-22.
York, executive chef for Chartwells, a foodservice provider on the campus, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March 1993. She spent 18 months in the hospital because she was so ill. At the time, her daughter Shiloh was only 3 years old.
"There was a period where I did not get to see her for about nine weeks because I was too ill," says York. "During that time the illness and treatment had taken a toll on me. I lost my hair; I was swollen from the steroids. Shiloh did not recognize me."
Today, Shiloh is 16 years old and her Girl Scout troop, led by her mom, make up York's Relay team called Gs for a Cure. York explains that she has known most of these girls since they were in the Brownies. She believes that their experience at the Relay For Life events engages them in a way like no other.
"Every one of them has been touched by cancer in some way, whether it's a grandparent, parent, sibling or themselves. It's a humbling experience and brings it home for the girls," says York. "All of them cry during the luminaria ceremony."
Besides getting the girls involved, York participates in the Relay for other reasons like the honoring of survivors, educating the next generation and meeting new people.
"Survivors are hesitant to discuss their experiences, but these types of events bring us together and help build camaraderie," says York. "Cancer runs in my family as well as Shiloh's father's family, so I want her to be aware of the disease and educate herself about it. I really don't want my daughter to go through what I went through."
York sees these events as especially important to raising money for research. "I want the research to help improve Shiloh's and her children's lives. I'm not taking any chances with my daughter's health, so Shiloh has already had her first blood scan done, and she will continue to do so throughout her life," says York. "Thankfully she is in perfect health."