Relay for Life to Raise Money, Awareness for Cancer Research

March 19, 2010 - News Release

University of Guelph student Samantha Smith-Moskal knows first-hand what it's like to battle cancer. At this time last year, she was still dealing with some severe side effects of her fight against acute promyelocytic leukemia. But this month, she will join with others from U of G and raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society during Relay for Life March 27 and 28.

“Having cancer was the worst experience of my life,” said Smith-Moskal, a third-year French studies student who is chairing this year’s event. “I want as few people as possible to go through it.”

Relay for Life is a 12-hour non-competitive event that runs in the Gryphon Dome from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The fundraising initiative takes place across Canada and the United States at various times throughout the year. U of G was the first university to organize a relay, and this is the sixth year for the event. Guelph currently holds the record for the most money raised by a post-secondary institution.

“This is my first year participating,” Smith-Moskal said, adding that she was inspired to take part because a friend participated on her behalf last year. The U of G committee is made up of people from various years and majors, “so it’s a great way of bringing people together.”

She was diagnosed with cancer while taking part in a semester abroad in France in the fall of 2008. “I noticed a couple of bruises that I couldn’t remember getting.” The bruising intensified, and she was eventually diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.

“It’s one of the more easily treatable types of cancer, with a cure rate of up to 95 per cent,” she said. “But I still had to endure three rounds of chemotherapy, and I had complications such as a blood clot in my lung, hypercalcemia (an excess of calcium that can be fatal), infections and pneumonia.” She has been in remission for nearly a year.

Highlights of Relay for Life include a survivor-led victory lap for cancer survivors and their families and a candlelight ceremony to honour or remember loved ones who have battled cancer.

The U of G committee is looking for participants, volunteers and cancer survivors, said Smith-Moskal.

Registration is $10 each and can be done online. People are encouraged to raise at least $100 each, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society to fund cancer research, support programs and advocacy. Participants receive a T-shirt as well as refreshments during the event. For more information, send email to

For media questions, Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

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