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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Longtime Relay for Life leader becomes cancer survivor

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

She's been teaching people the signs of cancer and how to prevent it for 29 years as a family physician in Whitewater.

Terry Mayer/The Week
Dr. Griffiths continues to work and to educate others about the signs of cancer.
She's also been the chairperson for the Relay for Life in Whitewater for the past decade.

But this year is different for Dr. Anne Griffiths. This year she is the honorary chair--the title nobody wants to hold.

This year's relay begins this coming Friday, Aug. 1.

After last year's relay, Griffiths left town for a well-earned trip of scuba diving, beaches and rest.

"I felt great," she says. "I felt great when I got home, but I wasn't."

As a doctor, Griffiths knows the signs of different types of cancer in her sleep. Even so, she was surprised at the subtleness of the symptoms that she was experiencing--and that it was ovarian cancer.

"I know well enough not to ignore these things," she said. "They're easy to ignore sometimes."

Griffiths remains rather flippant about her becoming a cancer survivor after all of these years of advocacy, but that's just her nature. She knows the very serious reality of her situation, as of those of others in her shoes in the past, present and future.

After all, she's been one of the primary people in Whitewater educating others about how not to become a cancer victim, both in her medical practice and by example.

"It's tough to explain to my patients that sometimes even if you do everything right, it can still happen," she says, shrugging and rolling her eyes slightly. It's the closest thing to feeling sympathy she can show for herself, and instead she directs it toward her patients.

So after all of these years as chairperson for the Whitewater Relay for Life, Griffiths will be serving as honorary chair for the relay, a position held by a community member who has been diagnosed with cancer in the past year.

"It's a good time to point out some important points," she says, ever the doctor. "Breast, ovarian and colon cancers seem to run together. For example, a person with a family history of one type of cancer should be extra vigilant about the other two types as well.

"But the best way to be sure is to get checked regularly," she stresses.

Women in their 20s and 30s should perform a monthly breast self-exam and have an annual physical, pelvic and breast exam performed by a doctor. Men in their 20s and 30s should have an annual physical and testicular exam performed by a doctor.

Women 40 and over should add a mammogram to the earlier list. And men 40 and over should keep the same routine.

Beginning at age 50, everyone should add a colonoscopy ensuring colon health.

Those with a family history should follow their own doctor's check-up recommendations.

And everyone should see a doctor if they feel different from normal--extra tired, discomfort or pain, changes in appetite or sleep, etc.--for more than a few days.

Relay for Life

The Relay for Life is an international two-day fund-raising event where teams hold a walk-a-thon supporting the research and treatment made available through the American Cancer Society.

Walworth County's relay events have placed in the top five fund-raising categories nationwide and would love to do it again.

Between laps there is massage, health screenings, live music, games and the all-new Relay Idol Contest, a special talent contest, rather than vocalists only. If your talent is dance, juggling, joke telling, baton twirling, playing an instrument, singing or something else, show it off at this year's Relay Idol contest. Sign-up will begin at 4 p.m. near the stage. Contestants will be performing on the hour beginning at 5 p.m.

Even if you're not part of a relay team, come and enjoy the fun, music, entertainment and food to help support the fight against cancer.


Whitewater Relay for Life

World For A Cure

Friday, Aug. 1

4 p.m. First lap. Jean Bleser on bagpipes

4-5:30 p.m. International cure finders lap--country attire

4:30-5:45 p.m. Music by The Bartabs--acoustic folk/variety

5-10 p.m. Chartwell's Food Court, variety of menu choices

6 p.m. Opening Ceremony

6:20 p.m. Survivor Lap and Reception

6:30 p.m. WHS Latino Dancers

6:30-7:30 p.m.-Jungle lap--jungle/island attire

7-10 p.m. Stateline Clown Ministry sponsored by Home Lumber Co.

7 p.m. Kehoe Irish Dancers

7-10 p.m. Healing Touch therapy and massage

7:30 p.m. Lincoln World Drummers

7:30-8:30 p.m. Many hats lap--most creative hat

8:45-9:15 p.m. Evening yoga

9 p.m. Story and craft time for children ages 5-12 (sponsored by the Irving Young Library)

8:30-10 p.m. Live music TBA

10 p.m. Luminary Ceremony with music by St. Pat's Choir

10 p.m.-1 a.m. Knead a Massage by Crystal Grainger

10:30-11 p.m. Quiet time to remember our survivors and loved ones who have passed on

10:45 p.m. Relay Idol top three finalists announced/perform

11 p.m. Pizza Party, $1 slices

11 p.m. Midnight. Music by Jaci Davis--concert pianist/vocalist

11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Team Up to Find a Cure lap, use a favorite sport and to show that teamwork will help find a cure

Saturday, Aug. 2

1-9:30 a.m. Guest DJ music by relay teams

1-2:30 a.m. Walk the Plank for a Cure lap--pirate or sailing attire

2:30-4 a.m. Rest hours with quiet music

4-5:30 a.m. Pajama Party

6-10 a.m. Stateline Clown Ministry

6-7 a.m. Sunrise in Tokyo lap--oriental attire

6-9 a.m. Breakfast by Bonnie

7-8 a.m. Friends are Forever lap

7:30-9 a.m. Fort Health Care screenings

7:30 a.m. Relay Olympics, teams of four participate in fun activities for a prize of mini golf for four

8 p.m. Relay Idol finalists perform last time/winner announced

8 a.m. Morning Yoga with Nancy Bauer

8:30-9:30 a.m. Country fun lap--western attire

9 a.m. Line dancing

9:45 a.m. Closing Ceremony



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