About Relay for Life of Statesville:
Relay for Life event will begin Friday, May 19, at 5 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. on May 20 at the Iredell County Fairgrounds, 630 N. Main St., Troutman. There will be a Kids Walk at 6:30 p.m., Survivors Lap at 7:30 p.m., and Luminary Ceremony at dusk. In addition to these ceremonies, the event will feature live entertainment including: the Catalinas, Barefoot Believers, Last Chance, Mixed Fits, Lee D, Praise Team, & Shade of Brown bands. There will be presentations including In His Steps Dance and Zumba. The Iredell County Firefighter Association’s Pink Fire Truck and a kids’ zone will be on site. The event will also host a 50/50 drawing, a Fire Department tug of war, martial arts demonstrations, and other games and activities. Food will be offered for purchase by Relay teams. Arts and craft vendors will also be selling at the event. A portion of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. The public is invited and admission is free. To donate online or learn more about Relay, visit
Cancer survivor: 'We're thinking outside our own lives'
By HALEY JONES
According to the American Cancer Society, one in three women and one in two men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Therefore, it is very likely that someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, is a survivor of cancer or is battling cancer at this very moment.
Melissa Haines is among those who have survived cancer, and now she is helping lead the fight against the disease as co-chair of this year’s Relay for Life of Statesville, which will be held May 19-20.
“I don’t think people realize the impact they have when they attend the Relay for Life event,” Haines said, the emotion clear in her voice. “Their attendance at these kind of events shows support and encourages. We need to show support for our community; for people going through cancer right now and for those who have survived it. We need to make sure that we’re uplifting and supporting those people. Relay for Life gives us a chance to show we care, and we’re thinking outside of our own lives.”
Haines has battled two types of cancer, and said she knows both how important Relay is an how difficult it can be to carve out time to participate.
“It’s even hard for me,” Haines said. “I have job and a family so it’s easy for me to get caught up in my own little world. But I have to realize that it’s not just about me. It’s not just about me having cancer. It’s a chance to show love and concern for others.”
Haines has been involved with the Relay event through her job at Piedmont Healthcare but after her last bout with cancer she felt as if she needed to do more.
“I saw the event numbers dwindling which worried me,” Haines recalled. “After going through what I did, it affected me directly. I didn’t want to see (the event) die.”
Haines said she saw the impact that the event could have on the community, noting that donations go toward national research, medicine, transportation, and housing for cancer patients. She embraced the chance to join co-chair Jada Thompson in working on the Statesville event.
Haines also spoke about the importance of involving children in Relay for Life. “We have also worked really worked to get more kids involved in this event so they can also learn about this cause.”
In 2012, after struggling for years with Thyroid problems, the doctor Haines was working for at the time suggested that she undergo a thyroid ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed cancerous nodules on Haines’ thyroid. After having the cancerous nodules removed, Haines began remission of her thyroid cancer.
In 2014, Haines noticed that she was having trouble breathing.
“I was an avid runner at the time, completing a lot of 5ks, 10ks and half marathons. So when my brother and I went to our hometown in Ohio to run a marathon, it should have been a piece of cake,” Haines recalled. “I ended up walking the majority of the marathon because I just couldn’t breathe.”
Haines also had gastric issues and an inability to sit up because it made it harder to breathe. She found herself having to lean back to catch her breath.
As soon as she returned from Ohio, Haines went to her doctor. A mass the size of a cantaloupe was found in her abdomen. The mass had attached to her pancreas, spleen, stomach and other organs. She was immediately admitted to Carolinas Medical Center to undergo surgery. The mass proved to be cancerous. To remove the mass, surgeons had to also remove Haines’ spleen and part of her pancreas and stomach.
The cancerous mass, known as an abdominal sarcoma, turned out to be a rare form of cancer. Only two in one million people are diagnosed with it.
Currently, Haines is cancer free but she admits that once a person has had cancer, they live their entire life wondering if it will come back.
“There is never a day that doesn’t’ go by that you don’t think about it,” Haines said. “That’s why (cancer survivors) need the support of those around us.”
Because of the need for this support, Haines calls on more sponsors, volunteers and teams to join the Relay for Life event.