By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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SEQUIM –– Marie Meyers, chairwoman of Sequim's Relay For Life, has personal reasons for raising money for researchers to find a cure for cancer.
Her mother died of breast cancer while Meyers, now 60 and a retired music teacher, was in high school.
“I remember her telling me, 'Marie, you need to get on with your life,'” Meyers said, recalling her role as her mother's caregiver.
“That always reminded me why I relay: to get on with life and help provide hope.”
Sequim's Relay For Life, the last one of the year on the North Olympic Peninsula, will be around the track at Sequim High School, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Events are planned from 3 p.m. today through the night until closing ceremonies at noon Saturday.
Over the past year, Meyers has tapped that hope for herself as she staged her own bout with breast cancer.
Just days before the 2012 Relay For Life she was spearheading, Meyers was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Now free of cancer after a year of intensive treatment that thinned her hair, made her vomit, gave her triple-digit fevers and damaged her breast, Meyers is again leading this weekend's Relay For Life and looks forward to donning the purple “survivor” T-shirt with a closer perspective on the services provided by the charity walk's proceeds.
“This definitely gave me a firsthand insight into everything the American Cancer Society offers,” she said. “Sometimes, cancer can be a blessing.”
She got to take advantage of the cancer society's patient hotline, ride-share program, even wig and cosmetic providers funded in part through the society's Relay For Life events around the nation.
Through Thursday, the 25 teams signed up for the Sequim Relay For Life had raised $17,743.19.
Her mother's legacy
Much of Meyers' treatment was at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, the same place the south Seattle native took her mother for treatments in the 1960s.
“They were trying new things on her then. I remember her saying, 'Marie, the things they're trying on me are going to help somebody else survive,'” Meyers said.
“It's like she gave up her life for me.”
Meyers was treated in the hospital's new breast cancer clinic, opened in June 2012.
The new facility included a vast collection of imaging machines and devices aimed at making treatment more comfortable, she said.
“It was just amazing to be part of all this new technology,” Meyers said.
Many of those technologies were instituted by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, said Katelyn Rushing, organizer of the American Cancer Society's relays on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Dr. Benjamin Greer of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance will speak at the Sequim relay's opening ceremony at 3 p.m. today.
Greer worked with Meyers during her treatment.
“That's a special honor,” Rushing said. “We haven't been able to team up too much with the cancer-care folks, so this is pretty special.”
Also scheduled to speak at the relay is Dr. Patricia Deisler, the newly hired oncologist at the Olympic Medical Cancer Center in Sequim, where Meyers also received some of her breast cancer treatments.
Events are slated throughout the Relay For Life.
Highlights today include:
■ Opening ceremony, 3 p.m.
■ Mr. Relay pageant, 5 p.m.
■ Survivor ceremony and survivors' lap, 6 p.m.
■ Luminarias lit in remembrance of those stricken with cancer, 10 p.m.
■ Macarena Duck lap, midnight.
Saturday's events include:
■ Scavenger hunt, 1 a.m.
■ Relay dance contest, 2 a.m.
■ Eating contest, 6 a.m.
■ Duct tape fashion show, 9:30 a.m.
■ Closing ceremony, noon.
The Port Angeles Relay For Life was June 7-8. The Relay For Life of Jefferson County was July 27-28. The Forks event was Aug. 2-3.
For more about the Sequim Relay For Life, visit http://tinyurl.com/sequimrelayforlife.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.