Superheroes, animal costumes and even Star Wars characters have taken over Curtin University’s Edinburgh Oval for 24 hours. The groups are all part of Curtin’s annual Relay for Life event to raise awareness and funds for Cancer research, education and support services.
Cancer affects one in two Australians before the age of 85. According to Cancer Council WA, an estimated 128,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with the number set to rise to 150,000 per year by 2020.
Now in its third year, the Relay for Life event is organised completely by Curtin students and graduates, and challenges teams to walk or run in relays for 24 hours as a reminder that cancer never sleeps.
Event organiser and Curtin Honours student Sarah Henn says her role and studies in cancer research have given her greater insight into how cancer impacts society.
“I’m doing my Honours in Laboratory Medicine and hope to one day find a cure for cancer,” she says.
“Being part of Relay For Life Curtin allows me to understand and appreciate where the money for cancer research comes from and how cancer affects everyone.
“When I met all the teams, learned their stories and why they were involved in Relay, that was an extra bit of inspiration for me.”
This year, a total of 48 teams raised more than $80,000 for Cancer Council WA collectively, with the highest fundraising team, ‘Team Josh’, named after 22 year old Josh who was diagnosed with cancer, fundraising $8,035.50 alone.
Sarah says most of the teams involved in the event are experiencing the effects of cancer in different ways.
“A lot of the teams did have someone either battling cancer at the moment or had recently lost someone to cancer. Other people were survivors as well and just want to be there for support.”
Sarah is also a recipient of the Cancer Council WA Honours Scholarship, which aims to assist outstanding students in their cancer-related research. She endeavors to continue her studies in cancer research and volunteering at Curtin’s Relay for Life, which she believes is one of the most unique and effective cancer charity events.
“It’s a team event so that’s symbolic of the fact that you really need a support network to get through that 24 hours a day, one person doing all those laps for 24 hours is tough, same as someone who is battling cancer; it’s a horrible thing to go through on your own,” she says.
“As well as raising money, there is so much more to the event. There are a lot of cool aspects and something for everyone at Relay.”