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Posted: February 1, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Survivor Sunday to honor cancer survivors

While two teams battle for the ultimate prize in football today, next Sunday will see Covington and Newton County honor true fighters, those who literally battle death.

Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston and County Chairman Keith Ellis signed proclamations Friday morning declaring Feb. 9 to be Survivor Sunday in honor of cancer survivors across the county and promoted the local Relay for Life, which will take place April 25-26 this year.

According to the resolution, on Survivor Sunday, "Churches and communities are encouraged to recognize survivors with their courageous battle against this awful disease and celebrate all the lives that have been touched."

Brenda Stanton, a local Relay for Life committee member, said the goal is to recognize all the people battling cancer and to locate as many survivors in Newton County as possible and invite both groups to two special events.

There will be a survivors dinner in March – dates will be announced later – and a survivors reception before the Relay for Life event at 6 p.m. April 25, according to Chris Jones, a Relay for Life specialist for the American Cancer Society.

To sign up for Relay for Life – sign-up is free for survivors – go to relayforlife.org/newtonga or contact Jones at 706-543-2240 or chris.jones@cancer.org.

Becky Byrum, another Relay committee member, said volunteers are hoping to spread the word to as many churches as possible.

"We probably don’t touch half of the survivors in Newton County," said Byrum.

"Most people think Relay is only about raising money (for cancer research), but it’s more than that."

Byrum said when was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, she didn’t even cry.

"I had seen so many people walk around that track during the past 20-30 years. I said, ‘I can do that,’" Byrum said.

To read the proclamations, go to CovNews.com.

In addition to Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society provides access to more than 60,000 resources for active patients and survivors; visit cancer.org, or call the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-237-2345. Jones said 83 Newton County residents called the hotline in 2013.

The American Cancer Society also provides several other programs, including:

The Hope Lodge, where cancer patients who live more than 50 miles away from their treatments can stay at no cost to them or their caregiver as long as they need lodging during treatment. (Five local cancer patients and caregivers stayed a total of 150 nights in a Hope Lodge in 2013.)

Road to Recovery, which provides transportation to and from appointments and treatments. (18 Newton County residents used this program in 2013.)

Look Good, Feel Better, where newly-diagnosed women go to a session (held at Newton Medical Center locally) to deal with appearance-related side effects of cancer. (Ten women attended these quarterly sessions in 2013 and five women received free wigs as well.)

Finally, 78 Newton County residents are participating in the American Cancer Society’s latest cancer prevention study (CPS-3), which will track people’s daily living habits over the next 20-30 years to help medical researchers and professionals better understand cancer.

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