When Carolann Randell addresses a gathering of cancer survivors this month, her message will be one of strength, resilience and living life to the fullest.
“I feel proud and elated to know we have beaten the odds; each person has had a journey of their own, but united we stand because we are alive; we have a story to tell,” the 53-year-old two-time cancer survivor said.
Randell lives in Fortune where the event honouring cancer survivors will be held June 15.
The survivors’ families, friends and caregivers will also participate.
Randell was 37 when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2003. She underwent surgery followed by radiation.
She recovered, returned to work and married Jerry Randell a couple of years later.
Randell’s second scare came in 2018 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her treatment included surgery and chemotherapy.
During her darkest days when pain gripped her body, she turned to her faith for relief.
“I’d start to sing a chorus ‘Ride out your storm; God is right there with you.’ I’d be crying and praying and singing at the same time... my husband would be there rubbing my back... he would sing with me,” Randell said of the gospel song she and her husband often sing in church.
Randell finished her last round of chemo in October 2018. She can no longer work due to health issues. However, she continues to embrace life and relies on her family and her faith as she faces the future.
“I’m going to live my life so that whatever God wants me to do, I’m going to be able to do it for him. I’m hoping that includes a long life but that’s something I don’t know. But I’m going to live life to the fullest as much as I can,” she said.
Jean and Eileen Rose and their niece Donna Hillier are among those organizing the event in Fortune.
The Rose sisters have nine living siblings, seven of whom are cancer survivors.
While the family participates in the Relay for Life in Marystown every year, Jean said her family as well as other participants felt it would be a good idea to hold a similar event, on a much smaller scale, in Fortune.
As many as 100 people are expected on June 15, she said.
Hillier said, in addition to Jean and Eileen, she has three more aunts on their team which they call Kind Hearts. Another team, Prancers for Cancer, is also involved in organizing the event in Fortune, she said.
Hillier said it’s shaping up to be a great evening, due in a large part to the support they are getting from individuals and various groups and businesses in the community.
Many will still go to Marystown, Hillier said, and are fundraising for that event. "But we are hoping to make (Fortune) an annual event to help the people in this area that can’t get to Marystown."
Relatives impacted also
Randell has several relatives who have battled cancer over the years, including her mother, Audrey Dunne, a breast cancer survivor.
Her mother and several other relatives will be on hand to hear her tell her story.
Randell said, while it’s an honour to be asked to speak to the cancer survivors, her thoughts will also be on those who have died from the disease.
“I know, as I look out among the survivors, my heart will be broken for those who have lost the battle, but fought a great fight,” she said.
Cancer Survivor Day
Date: June 15, 2019
Place: Fortune Arena
Time: Registration is from 4-5 p.m.
Details: A luncheon follows registration. Among the other planned activities are a survivors’ walk, a caregivers’ walk, live musical entertainment, a presentation by Carolann Randell and a luminary lighting ceremony.