When Riviera resident Hope Witkowsky first participated in the Torrance Relay for Life more than 15 years ago, her goal was to support a fellow city council member whose relative died of cancer. Little did she know that in 2013, her fight against cancer would get personal. That was the year that her husband, Mike, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and only nine months later Hope was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“As survivors, fighting back against cancer by getting involved with Relay For Life is even more poignant for my husband and I,” said Hope, a former Torrance councilwoman who produces and hosts the local cable show, Senior Scene. “I raise money for Relay for Life every year and I won’t stop until cancer is stopped.”

In 2019, there will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States, which translates to about 1,660 deaths per day, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease.

The positive news is that in the last two decades, cancer rates declined about 27% because of reductions in smoking, as well as improvements in early detection and treatment. This decline translates into more than 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths from 1991 to 2016, progress that has been driven by steady declines in death rates for the four most common cancer types – lung, colorectal, breast and prostate.

You can help fight back against cancer by joining forces with neighbors and friends at the 17th annual Torrance Relay for Life, held April 27-28 at South High School. The world’s largest grassroots fundraising event, Relay For Life raises money for the American Cancer Society with the help of teams of volunteers who commit to having at least one team member walking on a track at all times over a 24 hour period, because cancer never sleeps.

Relay for Life honors cancer survivors, pays tribute to those who have lost their lives to the disease, and raises money to fight cancer by funding research and providing support for patients and caregivers. With the help of thousands of volunteers, Relay for Life fundraisers assist the American Cancer Society in saving more than 500 lives a day. Relay for Life Torrance raised nearly $225,000 for the American Cancer Society last year.

The Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club continues its tradition of fielding a team at the Torrance Relay for Life, with Igor Nastaskin serving as team captain for the 13th consecutive year. Please consider joining the Riviera Sportsman’s Club’s Relay team if you’d like to get involved (women and men are welcome). The team has raised nearly $125,000 for the American Cancer Society over the past 14 years. Highlights of the Relay for Life are the opening ceremony Saturday, April 27 at 9 am followed by a survivors’ lap at 9:30 am.

At 8 pm Saturday, a Luminaria Ceremony will honor survivors as well as those who lost their battle with cancer. Entertainment is provided throughout the event, which concludes Sunday at 9:00 am with a closing ceremony. To sign up for the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team, or to donate funds to the American Cancer Society for the fundraiser, please contact Igor at 310-892-6016 or inastaskin2@socal.rr.com. Donations are accepted until August 31, 2019. Your gift is tax deductible as a charitable contribution to the fullest extent allowed by law.

For more information about the American Cancer Society’s support for survivors and patients, please call them 24/7 at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org. We hope to see you at South High the weekend of April 27-28 as we pull together as a community to fight back against cancer.