“Cancer demands a community response.”
Those were the words from Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper when he spoke more than a thousand survivors, carers and supporters as they gathered for the start of the Warrnambool and District Relay for Life event on Friday night.
Forty-two teams took part in the 19-hour relay circuit of the Deakin University oval, including ten teams participating for the first time.
As the Warrnambool and District Pipes and Drums lead carers and survivors on the first lap of the oval, a sea of purple followed in what Mr Harper described as a necessary community “connectedness”.
“Cancer is a devastating disease,” Mr Harper said. “We lose 1100 lives to cancer each year in Victoria.”
Closer to home, Mr Harper said the figures in the south-west region were representative of the overall state numbers.
“Over 200 people were diagnosed with cancer in the Warrnambool area last year,” he said.
”This event is about working together to prevent cancer and find earlier detection techniques.
“It’s about treating and hopefully one day eradicating this disease.
“It is also about acknowledging the efforts of carers and community members as well.”
Mr Harper said Relay for Life was the organisation’s biggest fundraiser and was unique because it engaged the whole community.
In it’s 16th year the annual Warrnambool event has reached a $2 million fundraising milestone.