SYCAMORE – On Thursday evening, Marlene Bryant of Sycamore had something to celebrate: life.
Bryant, a breast cancer survivor, has been cancer-free for five years. To celebrate her victory, honor those who are battling cancer and remember those that lost their fight, Bryant attended the seventh annual Relay for Life of DeKalb County Luminaria Vigil.
“My sister passed away from cancer a year before I was diagnosed,” Bryant said. “When you hear that ‘c’ word, you think it’s a death sentence. With the money we raise for the American Cancer Society’s research, it no longer has to be that.”
Thursday’s vigil began at the Kishwaukee Bible Church office, 201 W. State St. in Sycamore. Attendees walked across the street with their luminaria to the DeKalb County Courthouse. At the courthouse, the candle inside the luminaria bags were lit, and a brief remembrance ceremony was held, led by Jesse Meekins, pastor of Kishwaukee Bible Church. The vigil concluded with refreshments in the church office.
All proceeds from the luminaria purchased will go toward the Relay for Life of DeKalb County 2019 event, held June 22 at the Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave. The vigil’s luminaria will also displayed during the event.
Chris Doe, the luminaria coordinator, described the vigil as “a special remembrance for anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
“Most of the focus is on those we have lost, and the holidays are especially hard when you have lost someone,” Doe said. “People relate the flame of the candle to the light of hope, the hope that there will be a cure and that other people won’t have to light a bag.”
Sandy Foord, her sister Donna Weber and their mother, Carol Evans, attended the luminaria vigil together. The family lit eight luminaria bags to honor and remember family and friends that battled cancer.
“I’m a cancer survivor, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that we’re all fighting together to find a cure to end cancer,” Evans said. “It’s important to remember those that we have lost, fight with those battling and celebrate with those that have survived.”
Denise MacLaren, community development manager with the American Cancer Society, said that luminaria vigil events are rare during the winter.
“It’s a wonderful event because it’s a great way to honor loved ones lost to cancer,” MacLaren said. “It’s a nice, touching way to honor their memories and give the community the opportunity to remember, especially around the holidays.”
For information about Relay for Life DeKalb County, visit www.relayforlife.org/dekalbil.