Wylie Nelson, cancer survivor, speaks to EHS students about getting involved in Relay for Life.
Wylie Nelson is a cancer survivor. He is also a student at Emery High. Nelson is trying to create some excitement and participation in the annual Relay for Life walking event to be held on June 11-12 at the Emery High track. Nelson is the community involvement person for the youth for the Relay for Life committee. Nelson organized an assembly to introduce the students to relay and let them know about cancer.
Diane Tadehara is the chairman for the survivors. She spoke to the students about cancer and had everyone in the audience standup who has been touched by cancer in some way. Nearly everyone in the audience was standing. "Cancer most often is a long drawn out and expensive process. You can start out with insurance and end with none. Some are uninsurable. One in seven women will be affected by cancer and one in three men. The chairman for this year's relay is Amanda Bjarnson. The relay is June 11-12 and we want everyone to become involved. We would like each team member to raise $100," said Tadehara.
Other members of the relay for life committee include: Emily Nielsen and Vicki Crosland as co-chairs and Brenda Jensen is the luminary chairman.
Crosland spoke to the students telling them she is involved with relay because she has cancer and several of her family members have passed away from cancer and she currently has a nephew battling the disease. "For one night we get together and play games, listen to music, eat and walk for miles. The survivors lap, means we have survived one more year. As a grandmother, surviving means I can go to one more baseball game. I relay so I can watch my family grow up. I relay so we can make cancer easier to survive," said Crosland.
A video was prepared with pictures of Wylie during his cancer treatments and since then as a survivor. On Nov. 23, 1998, Wylie had a stomachache and he was pale. Things just weren't right. He went to the doctor and a CT scan was taken and a blood draw. It was learned he had lymphoblastic leukemia. He was given chemo meds to kill the leukemia cells. He went to Primary Children's hospital immediately where he began his war on cancer at the age of 5. When he arrived at the hospital, the doctors couldn't believe how good he looked as his white blood count was 315,000 and over 50,000 was considered high risk. A count that high could cause kidney failure. Wylie went through a blood transfusion, countless pills, his hair fell out twice, he had bone marrow and spinal taps. He underwent three years of treatment. He went into remission. He is considered a long term survivor. He suffered heart muscle damage from his treatments. The doctors now know to use sugar water in the solutions instead of saline water. Leukemia sufferers in the 1960s only had a 14 percent chance of surviving. In the 1990s that went to 65 percent. Each year there are 5,700 new cases of leukemia diagnosed. Anyone can get it. The cause of it is unknown. Wylie said there are 45,000 people living in the United States with leukemia right now.
"I have been able to celebrate 11 more birthdays. Celebrating more birthdays is the theme for this year's relay. I relay to make a difference and make people aware of cancer and to work for a cure," said Wylie.
Tadehara said Wylie is one of her heroes as she gave him a big hug. "We are here to try to get you involved. Those who are cancer survivors have hope for the future because of people like you. No one can say that it won't be an Emery High graduate who finds a cure for cancer. It might be an Emery High student who makes an impact on the world by starting to walk. Get involved. It's an overnight party your parents will give you permission to go to. Challenge each other and put some teams together. I would like to see Emery High become a major part of this community fund raising event."
Wylie presented the students and faculty with a challenge. He wants to see a competition between the faculty and the students to see who can sign up the most people to participate in the Relay for Life. Get involved, you can register online, there is food and fun all night. "Talk to people, take the challenge, thanks for being here," said Tadehara.
Emery High principal, Larry Davis encouraged the students to get involved. He said, "We can make a difference. EHS can get behind this event." Davis complimented the students on their good behavior during the assembly and encouraged them to walk in the relay.