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Survivor Luncheon Draws In Dozens To Celebrate
A brief rain shower didn’t put much of a damper on the festivities, as cancer survivors donned ponchos and used umbrellas to ward off the inclement weather at the Sunday, Sept. 18 American Cancer Society’s Survivor Luncheon, hosted in Hughson. Photo By Marg Jackson

The grounds surrounding Duarte Nursery in Hughson was the setting this year for the Survivor Luncheon, a day to honor cancer survivors, as part of the Relay For Life celebration.

The Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County – which brings together teams from Modesto, Oakdale, Turlock and beyond – is scheduled at John Thurman Field in Modesto on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9. The 24-hour team event raises funds and awareness in the fight against cancer and is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event.

A large crowd gathered late Sunday morning, Sept., 18 for the local festivities, which included a catered luncheon, guest speakers, music, specialty desserts and drawings for a variety of prizes. Cancer survivors and their caregivers were the invited guests; members of the Relay’s Event Leadership Team assisted with putting on the event.

First guest speaker for the luncheon was Dennis Partlow, a 2015 Hero of Hope, a triple cancer survivor and a co-chair for the Vacaville Relay For Life.

Partlow said he lost two older brothers and his mom to cancer, while his father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He stressed the importance of both men and women being in touch with their bodies and checking for any unusual lumps.

“Check in to Relay For Life,” he also urged attendees. “Ninety-three percent of the fund collected (at Relay) go to some form of cancer related service.”

Whether that is providing rides to treatment or financing a stay at a Hope Lodge away from home during treatment, Partlow said it all adds up to helping cancer patients.

Also addressing the attendees was Rev. Dr. Robert Johnson, who serves as Director of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy at Turlock’s Emanuel Medical Center.

“We are not in this alone, we are in this together and we are better together,” Johnson said, noting that he is a four-time cancer diagnoses survivor.

He also paid homage to caregivers, including his wife, for the incredible role they play in the fight against cancer.

“I take my hat off to her every single day,” he said, indicating his wife.

Chronicling his long journey to recovery, Johnson said he has tried to stay positive and upbeat and also agreed to take part in a Turlock ‘Dancing with the Stars’ event – he is now the reigning champion.

Ultimately, he said, it takes events like Relay For Life, along with continued research and education, to move toward a world without cancer.

“With your help, we can kick cancer’s butt,” he said.

One of the featured guest speakers at Sunday’s annual Survivor Luncheon was Rev. Dr. Robert Johnson, who serves as the Director of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock. Photo By Marg Jackson