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Cancer survivors rally for Relay for Life

Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on June 17, 2017 1:14PM

Last changed on June 19, 2017 8:34PM

Diana Nehila of Pendleton takes a moment to chat as she joins other cancer survivors Saturday in Pendleton for the first lap of Relay for Life. Nehila endured 13 surgeries and other treatment to beat cancer 30 years ago.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Diana Nehila of Pendleton takes a moment to chat as she joins other cancer survivors Saturday in Pendleton for the first lap of Relay for Life. Nehila endured 13 surgeries and other treatment to beat cancer 30 years ago.

Cancer survivors and their caretakers turn the corner Saturday in Pendleton during the first lap of Relay for Life.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Cancer survivors and their caretakers turn the corner Saturday in Pendleton during the first lap of Relay for Life.

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Ray and Carrie Larson of Pendleton join others Saturday at Roy Raley Park, Pendleton, for the survivors lap during the Umatilla County Relay for Life. The couple were the featured guests, recalling their ordeal this past winter when Ray underwent treatment for cancer in the Tri-Cities.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Ray and Carrie Larson of Pendleton join others Saturday at Roy Raley Park, Pendleton, for the survivors lap during the Umatilla County Relay for Life. The couple were the featured guests, recalling their ordeal this past winter when Ray underwent treatment for cancer in the Tri-Cities.

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Carrie and Ray Larson of Pendleton uprooted their lives this past winter so Ray could battle prostrate cancer.

The featured guest speakers at Saturday’s Relay for Life of Umatilla County in Pendleton, the couple said the American Cancer Society made Ray’s treatments possible.

Ray received his cancer diagnosis late last year, his wife told the modest crowd at Roy Raley Park, Pendleton, and on Christmas day they left their home for treatment in the Tri-Cities. They would not be back again for nine weeks.

Much of that, Carrie said, was because the harsh winter made driving back and forth impossible. She also said she has muscular dystrophy and worried how she would care for her husband.

That, Ray said, is where the American Cancer Society stepped in.

He said he needed medical treatments five days a week for nine straight weeks, and the ACS made sure they had a roof over their head the whole time. The last six weeks they spent at Riverton by Bonaventure: Retirement and Assisted Living Community, Richland. The Larsons said they soon plan to move there.

The money people give to the American Cancer Society, he said, helps people like himself and his wife.

Ray said his last treatment was Feb. 24, and tests a month later showed he was cancer free.

“I’m a survivor!” he declared.

Carol Preston of Pendleton headed up the event. For the first time, Preston said Pendleton and Hermiston joined efforts to create Relay for Life of Umatilla County. Holding it at Roy Raley from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. was in hopes of getting more people to see and participate in the event.

Diana Nehila, 73, of Pendleton, along with her daughter and caretaker, Keysha Nehila, 52, were among the participants. Diana said this was her fifth year of in the Relay, having survived cancer 30 years ago.

Diana, a greeter at the Pendleton Walmart, said she endured 13 surgeries, seven months of chemotherapy and five years of medication to beat the disease.

“This is a big event for me,” she said.

Relay for Life raises money for cancer research, help for cancer patients, educating the public on cancer prevention and more. But the event does more than that, she said.

“When you find out you have cancer, you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has it,” Diana said.

Relay for Life, she said, offers the vital balm of community support.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.





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