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Couple Remain Passionate about Relay For Life

Article date: May 1, 2013

Paul and Joyce Graves

"I think that American Cancer Society and Relay have helped so much with that because we have the hope that there's going to be that new drug or that new procedure out there when one stops working."

 

Cancer survivors Joyce and Paul Graves say they are so passionate about American Cancer Society Relay For Life, they bleed purple, the movement’s emblematic color. Between them, they survived 5 cancer diagnoses from 1993 to 2007: chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for Paul, 2 breast cancers for Joyce, and basal cell skin cancer for both. Over the years, they have witnessed first-hand several new developments in cancer treatment. Joyce said, “I think that American Cancer Society and Relay have helped so much with that because we have the hope that there’s going to be that new drug or that new procedure out there when one stops working.”

Relay For Life events are held every year in communities around the world, raising money to invest in research and to provide information and services to cancer patients and caregivers. For Joyce and Paul, it’s an almost year-round commitment. They serve on the board of their local Relay event in Gallup, New Mexico, and Joyce is a member of the state council, which involves traveling throughout New Mexico and occasionally Arizona to train other volunteers. Paul said Joyce’s devotion to Relay is limitless. He said, “If Joyce was on her deathbed and they asked her to go to Timbuktu, she would.”

In 2006, the couple took part in Celebration on the Hill, a Relay For Life on a massive scale that brought thousands of advocates together in Washington, DC, to press for greater funding for cancer research and programs. They met face-to-face with legislators from New Mexico, and successfully persuaded one of them to sign a pledge supporting legislation to fund cancer-fighting initiatives.

In addition, Joyce and Paul both volunteer through the American Cancer Society resource center at a cancer center in their community. They meet with patients, provide information, and listen. Joyce also volunteers for Reach To Recovery, an American Cancer Society program that connects trained volunteers who are themselves breast cancer survivors with people newly facing a breast cancer diagnosis or treatment. Joyce said, “I don’t think there is anything with American Cancer Society or Relay that I would not do.”

They are also members of the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). Joyce said she does not consider herself a political person, but she calls and visits her legislators to express her opinion about cancer issues.

“Because of research and new drugs,” said Joyce, “cancer is not as scary as it used to be. It’s not a death sentence.”