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I Fight Back for Bella

Relay For Life Returns to South High School May 6

Like many of us, cancer has had a profound effect on my life.  When I was 19 years old, just four years after immigrating to the U.S. from Kiev with my mother, Bella, she developed abdominal pains.  What initially appeared to be gallstones was eventually revealed to be pancreatic cancer, and six months after her diagnosis she passed at the age of 57.  

Up until that point, I didn’t know anyone with cancer.  I dropped out of college to be my mother’s full-time caregiver, administering morphine injections as her pain grew.  We were extremely close, having fled the hardships of the Soviet Union together, and this was a devastating experience for me.

Had there been a cure for cancer maybe my mother would have seen me graduate from college and start a career.  Maybe she would have met my wife and seen her grandchildren. There are a lot of maybes and what-ifs when we lose someone we love.  And too many of us have lost someone to this horrible disease, or have been diagnosed ourselves.

My personal heartache motivated me to get involved with Relay for Life 17 years ago when I became the captain of the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team.  It’s been a very fulfilling experience, and to date, we have raised approximately $172,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life is the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event dedicated to saving lives from cancer. During Relay For Life, teams have at least one member walking on a track at all times, because cancer never sleeps.  Funds raised through Relay For Life directly support breakthrough research, 24/7 support for cancer patients, access to lifesaving screenings, and much more.

Supporting Relay for Life is easy.  You can walk the track, or simply make a donation. The South High event will take place May 6 from 9am–10pm and will include a survivor /caregiver walk, hand-made Luminarias to remember those affected by cancer and performances by community groups.

To sign up for the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team (men and women are welcome), or donate funds to the American Cancer Society, please contact me at 310-892-6016 or inastaskin02@gmail.com. Your gift is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Let’s all fight back against cancer to give those we love more tomorrows.  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.