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North Kitsap Relay for Life raises $57,000

POULSBO — At North Kitsap’s Relay for Life event, Betsy Sustad of Kingston said, “Purple runs in my veins.”

At the opening ceremonies July 26, Sustad told this year’s survivor story, but hers is different: she’s not done fighting cancer.

Sustad has participated in Relay for Life since 2001, starting in memory of a family friend’s son who fought leukemia. Then, in 2006, Sustad was found to have colon cancer during an appendectomy. She was 39 — 11 years from when people usually get colonoscopies.

Sustad, having been around a lot of survivors, thought, “I’m not going to be a statistic. I’m me.”

In front of this year’s 180 relay participants, Sustad told her story of surgeries and chemotherapy, and relapse after relapse: in 2009, 2011 and 2012. This year, she said, the drugs stopped working.

Looking at the crowd, which donated time and money for cancer-fighting research, Sustad said, “Because of you … I have options because of what you are doing. Let’s keep trying. There’s always, always hope.”

Survivors, caregivers and supporters gathered at North Kitsap Stadium for 24 hours of walking, Zumba, and sharing. The Suquamish Warriors carried the flags, the national anthem was sung and the first lap was taken by cancer survivors to the tune of “Circle of Life.”

North Kitsap Relay for Life raised more than $57,000 this year. The money goes to the American Cancer Society for research, transportation for those undergoing treatment, lodging for patients and caregivers, and other American Cancer Society programs.

The top fundraising team was Suquamish Clearwater Casino with $17,907; Team Christine and Kitsap Strong tied for second place, Chairwoman Karen Galvan said. The remaining awards will be presented at a meeting on Aug. 26.

 

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