Judy Dick leads local fight against cancer
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:54

Cancer survivor is Relay for Life volunteer

by John G. Bailey

    Cancer is everywhere, it seems. In 2012 alone, an estimated 577,190 Americans lost their lives to the “silent disease.” It would be hard to find a person not affected directly or indirectly by the malady.
    Judy Dick of Dundalk has endured more than many in this regard. The three-time cancer survivor lost her daughter to the disease, and many of her family members suffer from it.
    But instead of retreating into self-pity and hopelessness, her travails with cancer have motivated her to action against it.
    “I’m passionate about trying to rid the world of this deadly disease,” she exclaimed.
    Dick got involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fund-raising event in 1999 and two years ago became co-chair of the Dundalk branch of the organization. Relay for Life is organized and operated by a network of cancer survivors, their family members and caretakers who find solidarity and comfort in numbers while working to cure the disease that binds them together.

The focus of Relay for Life is the annual marathon fundraising survivor celebration. Participants gather for 12 hours of commaradery, games and ceremonies from 6 p.m. Saturday to Sunday 6 a.m. on a given weekend.
    “Cancer doesn’t sleep, and neither do we,” Dick explains.
    This year’s Relay for Life is Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2 on the CCBC Dundalk campus. A survivors’ lap begins in the evening, with participants racing each other in a contest to “break the ice.” The luminaria takes place at dusk and commemorates people who have succumbed to cancer in the past year with paper bag lanterns. A pastor officiates at the ceremony and leads the group in singing Amazing Grace. “It’s always the most solemn and moving event of the evening,” Dick said.
    In last year’s Relay for Life Dundalk, more than 600 people participated. The group is seeking even more cancer survivors and caregivers for June’s event. To ensure a Relay for Life t-shirt, prospective participants are asked to register by Wednesday, May 1, by contacting Tina Messman at 410-284-6776 or catzjam@aol.com.
    Dick also chairs ACS’ Bark for Life Dundalk, which sponsors annual events designed to highlight the role of canines in the treatment of cancer. “Dogs are caregivers, too,” she said.
    Dogs, like humans, also frequently suffer the ravages of the disease. “Its tough to see them get sick and die. They’re like children to you,” Dick said in remembering her own personal losses.
    This year’s Bark for Life  — the third for the Dundalk area — is Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church athletic field. [See this week’s Community Calendar for more information.]
    Organizers stress that though Bark for Life is free, donations are requested and greatly appreciated. The popular Bark for Life t-shirts and dog bandanas will be sold for a requested donation of $25 this year.
    Last year’s Bark for Life Dundalk raised $6,000. Money generated from Relay for Life and Bark for Life, from both donations and business sponsorships, is used for cancer research and funds cancer support programs.
    Road to Recovery, one such program, provides transportation for  cancer patients to and from treatment sites.
    Asked if advances against cancer have rewarded her years of service to the cause, Dick responded equivocally: “Researchers have come a long way to stop and slow cancer down, and in breast cancer there have been tons of strides, but new mutations keep arising.”
    The work continues, and Dick soldiers on.