I attended a unique Relay for Life event in Jones Park May 6th.
Like all Relays, it provided an opportunity to honor survivors, remember those who have passed and to raise money to fight cancer.
This year's "Party with a Purpose" turned the evening into a celebration that was very satisfying.
The event chairs, Tommy Murphy of Mississippi Power, Carlene Alfonso of Caldwell Banker and Dorothy Nelson of the American Cancer Society should be commended.
I first became involved in Relay for Life in 2001 when my wife was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Over the next nine years, we learned the importance of the team approach to fighting cancer. We needed cooperation among her physicians, surgeons, oncologists and eventually hospice caretakers. There was support from the American Cancer Society that included Relay for Life. The annual events raised money, empowered survivors and engaged the community. The planning, execution and fundraising efforts were led by members of the medical community.
The shocking difference between this year's Relay and my previous experiences was the lack of medical participation! Previous Relays were characterized by overwhelming support from the medical profession, including hospitals, medical practices, oncologists and countless others. With the exception of Garden Park, these groups were largely unnoticeable at Jones Park two weeks ago.
How many hospitals, medical practices, oncology clinics and hospice organizations are in the county?
I expected as much or more participation from the medical community than from the local banks, realtors and Mississippi Power.