Step by step against cancer

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Lani Fouché

“It changes everything.” Clinton Gladwin, a 33-year-old sales assistant from Bloemfontein, is battling cancer for the second time in his fairly young life. More and more unanswered questions run through his bald head every day. “It’s tough, I can tell you that. There are off days on which I just ask, why? Why me? Why should I go through this for a second time? But I just try to stay busy, that helps to keep my mind off it.”

Gladwin’s life started spiraling downward about three years ago when his mother passed away. Shortly after her passing, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which he has meanwhile been cured from following a hard battle. “About four months ago, I found out that I have cancer in the glands. It’s the same cancer that Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with.” The two occurrences of cancer was totally unrelated, which left Gladwin with numerous unanswered questions and a heart full of rage. But he’s battling through it. His chemotherapy treatments for the gland cancer is already halfway, and the maliciousness of the disease is decreasing day after day.

“My family and friends are everything to me in this time. They are the ones who are carrying me through this.” Although he can’t do some things with his friends that he would like to, like play soccer, he looks into the future with hope. Gladwin was only one of the faces in the sea of cancer survivors at this year’s CANSA Relay for Life in Bloemfontein. His story has touched many lives, as do the stories of the men, women, children, teenagers, grannies and grandpa’s who united at the Tempe Military Base’s sports grounds this year to cry victory over the monster that is cancer. Thirty-seven companies this year pledged their support to help fund CANSA’s prevention, education, early detection, advocacy and patient care programmes in the Bloemfontein region.

The annual event is volunteer driven and community owned. During the relay, teams of 10 to 15 friends, neighbours, families and co-workers commit to keeping at least one member walking the track at all times. “Because cancer never sleeps,” the organisation said. During these events, tribute is paid to those who lost the fight against cancer, to support those fighting cancer and rejoice with those who have fought the disease and won. Each team submits a commitment or fee and each member is encouraged to raise a target to support CANSA’s causes. “This year’s relay was a huge success. We can’t say at this stage how much money was raised, because the teams are still busy with their campaigns,” said Tania McKay, coordinator for the event.

Visit www.cansa.org.za for information on how to join the next Relay for Life.