Foot soldiers

by bethanybump

Photos by Andrew Renneisen (via The Daily Orange)

Part 3 of 3: Every year, the Syracuse community gathers in the Carrier Dome to celebrate cancer survivors, honor loved ones lost to the disease and fight back to end cancer. Part Three of this series acknowledges those who fight for the cure.

The abnormal cells grow uncontrollably. They first arrive innocently enough, manifesting themselves as an unusual lump barely worth mentioning. Or a cough that lasts a little too long. Or a bruise that, for some reason, just hasn’t gone away.

The cells spread, invading other parts of the body, destroying tissues in their way. They might travel through a lymph or hide in a white blood cell. Eventually, they announce themselves by ravaging the body they’ve invaded. Too often, they end a life.

Not everyone is willing to sit back and watch.

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The camaraderie that came from supporting a good cause with friends marked Sofia Mejias’ last two years at Relay For Life. She remembers climbing onto a tall friend’s shoulders, playing chicken with her fraternity brothers and sisters, convincing a friend her crooked haircut looked good after she donated hair.

This year makes her nervous, though, after her father dealt with cancer for the second time.

“I don’t know how emotional I’ll get, and I don’t really know if I’m OK with letting people see me that emotional,” said Mejias, a junior ceramics major. “Since he’s been hit with it twice, I don’t know if I’ll really be able to handle it as much.”

Mejias has fundraised for Relay since she was a freshman. But by sophomore year, the fight for the cure became personal. Her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and only told his family when he went in for surgery. His treatments were successful. This year, though, doctors discovered an obstruction in his bile duct that turned out to be cancer yet again.

Read the rest of this story in The Daily Orange.

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