Wed11262014

Community

Mother-daughter survivors join in fight against cancer by walking Relay For Life


Photo By: Sophie Ho/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Sophie Ho/Special To The Town Crier

Mother and daughter Jeanne MacVicar and Bryn Pennington of Los Altos will join in the fight against cancer by participating in the upcoming Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Relay For Life event.

There are many moving events at the annual Relay For Life of Los Altos, the community’s 24-hour fundraising walk for cancer research, but few are as touching as the Survivor Lap.

With music bumping in the background, cancer survivors take to the Egan Junior High School track to walk a victory lap cheered by friends and family. Their supporters, referred to as “caregivers,” later walk their own lap. These moments are a way to honor survivors and caregivers, a reminder to all participants that the fight against cancer is hardly fought alone.

In past years, Los Altos resident and Relay organizer Jeanne MacVicar walked the survivors lap, having defeated breast cancer 27 years ago. Her daughter, Bryn Pennington, walked as her caregiver.

But this year, mother and daughter will participate as cancer survivors in the relay, scheduled June 15 and 16.  Pennington was diagnosed in April with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer that manifested in her leg.

“There is a saying that, ‘Our family had cancer, but I showed the symptoms,’” MacVicar said. “That was true for us 27 years ago, and now our family has cancer again. Except this time, Bryn has the symptoms.”

After receiving treatment, Pennington is now cancer free. She attributes her recovery and health to the support of friends, doctors and family.

“I hope anyone who gets cancer will feel the love and support that I’ve had from my family and parents,” Pennington said. “It’s changed my life for good.”

Relay For Life has been another pillar of support for Pennington and MacVicar. Having been heavily involved in organizing and participating in the event since the start, MacVicar attested to the power Relay has in showing survivors that they are not alone.

“Ultimately, everyone walks away from Relay feeling stronger and that they can go forward,” MacVicar said. “Cancer can be a very lonely disease. When you get a group together to talk about their experiences, that is very powerful.”

For Pennington, participating in Relay was initially a way to support her mother and remember those affected by cancer. This year, she’ll be able to benefit from the event in a different way.

“There is something qualitatively different being in a field with a thousand people who are all there because they love someone who is a cancer survivor or they want to remember someone who had cancer,” Pennington said. “That’s a very human experience. It’s a very beautiful experience to have.”

Relay For Life is scheduled 10 a.m. June 15 to 10 a.m. June 16 at Egan, 100 W. Portola Ave. To register or for more information, visit relayforlife.org.

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