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‘Relay’ gets ready for 2014

For Lisa Tipton, the Rally Team meeting at AmericInn Lodge & Suites last week to kick off the second Relay for Life season in Jonesborough was the perfect place to tell her story.
Tipton, originally from Georgia, has lived in Jonesborough almost her entire life, and provided the speech to begin the meeting that was held Feb. 27.
Tipton said she comes from a long line of family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother passed away at 55 years old from cancer, and the following year cancer took the life of her aunt. Her grandmother also died from cancer.
“There are only four of us on Mom’s side of the family living,” Tipton said.
Two of those family members have had cancer.
Because of her family history, Tipton began having regular mammograms when she was 32 years old. In 2009, she was diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer as a result of a routine mammogram.
In December of that year, Tipton had a double mastectomy. Her diagnosis at that point had changed to stage one invasive with cancer cells in her blood vessel.
Although Tipton said she was against chemotherapy treatment, her doctor convinced her that it would give her an opportunity to go on with her life.
She had four rounds of chemotherapy, once every three weeks, from January to March 2010. Twelve days after she had her first round, she lost her hair.
“I was never sick. I worked the whole time I took chemo, except when my blood levels bottomed out,” Tipton said. “I had energy and strength. My heavenly Father healed me.”
Tipton was not familiar with Relay for Life until 2010 when someone asked her to attend the event.
“I went to a few events that year — one in Johnson City and one in Erwin,” she explained.
To this day, the survivor lap makes her emotional.
“Every time I did the survivor lap, I did it crying,” Tipton said.
She said the survivor lap is awesome because it is a place where survivors are honored, as well as a place that gives them hope. Tipton said it is a great feeling to see people cheer them on when they are walking that lap.
After attending Relay for Life and as a survivor, Tipton felt she had a responsibility. She said she wants to get the word out about how important mammograms are and what kind of assistance the American Cancer Society offers.
“I feel like I have a responsibility because there are so many people that came after me,” she said of individuals diagnosed with cancer. “There are so many people that supported me. I don’t want to ever forget that.”
Tipton went for her six-month appointment last week.
“I’m doing awesome,” she said.
The Team Rally event also included videos explaining Relay for Life and interactive activities for those who attended.
“Lisa is the reason we relay,” said Mary Jane Greene, Relay for Life chair.
Last year was the inaugural event for Relay for Life in Jonesborough. Greene said she has always participated in the Relay for Life in Johnson City and asked about bringing the event to Jonesborough.
“I have never seen or participated in an event that pulled together the way Jonesborough did,” she said.
Last year, 21 teams and 91 survivors participated in the July event that took place in Downtown Historic Main Street. The event raised more than $30,000.
This year’s theme, “Games!! Finish the Fight & WIN Against Cancer” is scheduled from noon to midnight, Saturday, July 26, at Downtown Historic Main Street.
The HOPE Ceremony, survivor lap and caregiver lap, will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the Luminaria Ceremony will kick off at 10 p.m.
The Fight Back Ceremony, Closing Ceremony will start at 11:30 p.m. and the final lap will kick off at midnight.
Greene said this year’s goal is to have 30 teams and more than 150 survivors. Financially, the goal is to raise a minimum of $40,000.
“We are going to reach for the sky,” Greene said. “I’m so excited about the 2014 relay.”
American Cancer Society Community Representative Jessica Poff said Relay for Life will feature all-day entertainment and activities.
“It’s a community festival that celebrates survivors,” she said, adding that it also provides more community awareness for everyone.
Committee members, sponsors and teams are still being sought for this year’s Relay for Life event. For more information, visit
The next Rally Team meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 7.