Is cancer winning the fight?

Hopefully not, but this certainly seems to be the case in Meadow Lake where recently the Canadian Cancer Society announced it was calling off its local Relay for Life fundraiser because of what can only be summed up as an overall lack of participation and, in turn, a financial shortfall for the organization.

The annual Relay, which began in Meadow Lake in 2003, was originally scheduled to get underway at Lions Park this Friday evening (June 24) and continue until 1 a.m. the following morning. As of this week, however, only 17 participants had registered and, not including a $1,000 donation from a local financial institution, only $400 had been raised. Together, this barely meets the halfway point of the $3,000 anticipated to organize and host an event of this nature.

Indeed, times are tough throughout Saskatchewan economically, but even last year’s Relay only raised about half as much as it did in 2014. Signs of decline were already beginning to appear then and, similarly to what local organizer Brenda LaRocque-Hill stated, it’s a damn shame.

According to statistics provided by the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, an estimated total of 5,500 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2015, while 196,900 new cases were identified throughout Canada. Meanwhile, a total of 78,000 Canadians died last year as a result of cancer, including 2,400 in Saskatchewan.

The numbers are on the rise, meaning the enemy hasn’t been defeated yet. So, why retreat from battle now? It’s obvious, from a Canadian Cancer Society point of view, the decision came down to dollars and cents. Their reason for cancelling is justified and – considering the organization does plan to return to the community in the future with new and different fundraising ideas – somewhat acceptable.

What’s not acceptable, however, is the reluctance of more members of the community to get involved to make this year’s Relay happen. The cure for cancer may not be around the corner, but it’s certain never to be realized without the ongoing support of everyone affected by the disease. And, one fact that cannot be argued is cancer affects everyone. If you haven’t been diagnosed, there’s a darn good chance a friend or family member has been.

In the meantime, the Canadian Cancer Society continues to bang out ideas regarding what shape future fundraising initiatives will take in Meadow Lake. Whatever happens, hopefully the community will rally behind it and continue to do its part to combat this terrible disease. It’s not unimaginable. Since the Relay was launched locally 13 years ago, Meadow Lake raised in excess of $475,000 for cancer research.
The war isn’t over yet, so it doesn’t make sense why so few refuse to keep up the fight.