Rain doesn’t dampen Relay spirit

Published 5:41 am Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Washington Parish Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society event, was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Friday, and even though there was a forecast for a 90-percent chance of rain, the local Relay committee decided that the show would go on because the nearby YMCA had been made available to them.

“The committee has decided that we will have the Relay rain or shine tomorrow,” ACS liaison Heidi Magrath said, on Thursday. “Thankfully we have the Y to take cover in, if necessary. So keep your fingers crossed that the rain misses us.”

Unfortunately, on Friday morning when the Relay was ready to get under way, it was raining, and a few minutes later it was storming. However, the rain let off later in the day, and it appeared the rest of the event would go on without any problems.

Magrath said that cancer is a disease that has been especially felt in Washington Parish.

She noted that Washington Parish has an overall cancer incidence rate of 523.1, which is above the state of Louisiana average of 482.3, and the national average is 448.4. The rates are not actual numbers of people in this parish who get cancer, but are defined as the number of new cancers of a specific site/type occurring in a specified population during a year, usually expressed as the number of cancers per 100,000 population at risk.

The overall cancer mortality rate in the parish is 224.8, which is above the state of Louisiana average of 193.5, and well above the national average of 168.5.

In 2015, a total of 293 Washington Parish residents were diagnosed with cancer, and 125 died from the disease.

But ACS is there to help. In 2016, Washington Parish cancer patients spent 152 nights at the Hope Lodge in New Orleans, and their caregivers spent 60 nights. Hope Lodge rooms are valued at $150 per night, so the total savings to patients was $22,800. In addition, free nights provided by the ACS Hotel Partner Program gave parish residents 215 free nights of lodging.

Relay organizers were hopeful that the rain would remain gone at 5:30 p.m., when the cancer survivors were scheduled to take the opening lap.