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Relay’s living proof

POSTED: May 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

John and Diane Shearouse salute the flag as the National Anthem is played at the 2008 Effingham County Relay for Life on Friday night.

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The first lap of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life is reserved for cancer survivors. It may as well be a victory lap for survivors such as Diane Shearouse and Christine Brown.

Shearouse has been a survivor of cervical cancer for 21 years and of lung cancer for 12 years. Brown is a three-year survivor of a bout with lymphoma, and both ladies were on hand for the Relay for Life at South Effingham High School on Friday night.

“I don’t ask my husband to do much, but this is one thing I insist we do,” Shearouse said.

Fundraising efforts such as the Relay for Life are a big weapon in the fight against cancer.

“The more money you can raise, the better the chance they have at finding a cure,” Shearouse said.

To both Shearouse and Brown, prevention and early detection were key in their battles against cancer.

“It’s important to be checked for it,” said Brown.

Brown’s husband and two of her sons died from cancer, and she is now adamant about checkups and prevention.

“I believe in the CT scan,” she said. “That’s how they found mine. It’s important to be checked for it.”

Shearouse echoed Brown’s sentiments and each time, her cancer was caught early.

“I was blessed twice,” she said. “My doctor picked up on it early and surgery was able to take care of it. Early detection is the key.”

Shearouse had the lower left lobe of a lung removed, and lung cancer is more difficult to detect than other types, she said. They found the cancer after she contracted pneumonia.

“With my first, I lost a lot of weight,” she said. “With lung cancer, I didn’t have a clue.”

That’s why spreading the word about prevention, detection and finding the resources for further research — and the Relay of Life — resonate with survivors.

“To me, it’s important, because you feel like you’ve got people supporting you,” Shearouse said.

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