Cancer survivors say annual dinner serves up support, love

By Chase Jordan

May 7, 2014

About two decades ago, LaRue Darden discovered she was in for a long, hard battle. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years ago and went through treatments and surgeries to fight it.

“The chemo would really make you sick and it would make my blood count bottom out,” Darden said. “By the grace of God and the ability he’s given the doctors, we’re fine,” she attested.

In a few days, Darden will attend a dinner for survivors such as herself, an event designed to lift them up for their courage and their tenacity in fighting the good fight.

The Relay For Life dinner is set for for 5 p.m. Saturday at Clinton Family Worship Center, 103 Raiford St. Each survivor can bring one guest with them.

Darden said she enjoys the fellowship of the dinner, and it’s something she looks forward to every year.

“They really put a lot into this dinner,” she said. “They really make you feel special.”

During the event, cancer survivors like Darden will give their testimonies about their triumphs and tribulations.

“It’s always encouraging and uplifting,” she stressed.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACA), more than 1 million people in the United States get cancer each year.

“Give it to God,” Darden said about fighting. “Let him take control of the situation. He’s given these doctors the ability and the knowledge to treat you. But your strength will come from him.”

Darden said she was also blessed to have strong support from her family. “We went through it as a family and that’s what you have to do,” she said. “Have a positive attitude and you’ll be fine.”

She’s currently on the luminary committee for Relay for Life, and has always been a staunch supporter of Sampson’s event.

“I love it,” Darden said about Relay for Life. “It’s a time everybody can get together.”

Like Darden, cancer survivor Daisy Herring is looking forward to the dinner and appreciates Relay for Life volunteers. Herring said they’ve been supportive of cancer survivors and others battling it now.

Herring was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006.

“It’s been a long hard battle,” she attested.

She’s been cancer free since 2008 after undergoing two years of treatments and surgeries. “It was rough,” Herring said. “I was so sick from the chemo and I couldn’t do things. I was just sick all the time.”

But she did not give up. She encourages others to do the same.

“Hold on to your faith, trust your doctors and fight,” Herring said. “If you give in to it, it’ll get the best of you.”

During her treatments, she received a lot of support from family. It made a lot of difference, she said.

“They actually babied me,” Herring said with a chuckle. “They were right there with me, the whole time.”

Sampson’s annual Relay for Life is set for May 30.

But first comes the dinner. Organizer Rhonda Lockamy said the Saturday dinner will consist of ham, potatoes, string beans, rolls and cake. Entertainment will be provided by David Tew. Door prizes will also be distributed to attendees with a recliner as the top gift. Prior to the dinner, participants may have their portraits made and do handprints.

Christy Hunter will give a personal testimony about cancer.

The event is sponsored by Clinton Family Worship Center and is hosted by Serenity Baptist Church.

Lockamy said it gives cancer survivors time to share experiences with one another, and to offer their support.

“It’s just a wonderful time of fellowship,” she said. “We cry some, we laugh some and we just have a wonderful time.”