“Cancer has affected my life for longer than I can remember,” said Relay For Life of NOLA Universities Chair Lauren Wethers. “My paternal grandmother died after a battle with lung cancer not long after my second birthday. I was much too young to form any lasting memories of Mimi. Anything I know of her I learned from stories,” the Tulane University senior said.
Since moving to New Orleans in 2011, Lauren has especially appreciated the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in the area.
“The NOLA Hope Lodge is a reflection of how the city will unite to take care of someone in need,” she said. “The Hope Lodge gives people a safe, welcoming, and free place to stay while they receive the treatment that they need, and that value is impossible to replicate.”
It was her earliest impressions that prompted her to join her Relay For Life church team in 2004 at her home in Illinois. Trying to recall her Mimi, Lauren said, “I still remember finding her old Bible and inhaling the scent of the pages, as if the smell would somehow reawaken some part of my brain that would let me remember her. It smelled like the smoke of the cigarettes that caused her cancer and the peppermints she used to cover the smell on her breath.”
As Lauren matured, her passion for fighting cancer grew stronger. She watched many family friends, godparents, and her maternal grandfather battle cancer. Thankfully, these friends and family members survived their melanoma, breast, prostate and eye cancers.
“But that didn't mean that the experience left any less of an impression,” Lauren said.
When she moved to New Orleans in 2011, she got involved in Relay For Life of NOLA Universities. She served on the planning committee for the 2012 and 2013 Relay events and stepped up as co-director for the 2014 event.
“Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer, whether it's a friend who lost a parent or if you've lost someone yourself,” Lauren said. “Cancer has hurt everyone either indirectly or directly. Until that's no longer the case - until we find a cure and no one has to prematurely lose a loved one to cancer - I will continue to support the American Cancer Society.”