On Friday, June 21, at 6 p.m., Relay For Life of MidCoast Maine will kickoff with a special Survivors & Caregivers Lap, a moving experience honoring those who are surviving cancer and those that are supporting them. Survivors and their caregivers will join together to take Relay’s opening lap, unified in victory and hope, while the rest of the event’s participants surround the track to cheer them on.

Walking in this lap will be Kay Burgess, team member of the One Family Fighting Back team.

“I lost two grandmothers to colon cancer and several aunts and uncles to various cancers. In 2003 my brother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He died in February 2005 at the age of 54. We thought the primary cause of his cancer was the chemicals used in Vietnam. In October 2005, my sister was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer. She fought for almost seven years and we lost her in June 2012 at the age of 68. She lived with us and I took care of her for six years, so I saw firsthand what this disease can do. I have also lost several classmates and close friends, and in this area, over a dozen Vietnam vets — friends of my brother. I Relay to raise funds and to raise awareness. My primary focus is to raise awareness for ovarian cancer — the so-called “silent killer”. We are all well aware of breast cancer and the need for mammograms, and we are becoming more aware of colorectal cancer and the need for colonoscopies. Now we have to make women aware of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer.”

Burgess' Relay’s with her family and friends, walking the track in memory of those she lost and in the hope of finding a cure soon. She will be joined by more than 200 community members at Relay, all there to support each other as they celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that touches too many people.

To take part in the Relay For Life of MidCoast, please call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit RelayForLife.org/MidCoastME.