LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Most East Texans are familiar with the Relay for Life events that raise thousands to benefit those battling cancer. Thursday night, there was a pre-celebration in a more personal setting for both fighters and survivors at the VFW.
"You have to be a fighter. You have to be a prayer warrior. You must have belief and a positive attitude, and you can beat it," said Diane Dunbar, a survivor and guest speaker at the celebration.
She described the attributes of a cancer survivor.
"Everybody's story is different. They might have the same cancer, but their battle is different. It means something to them," said Clint Bourlon, Relay for Life Event Lead.
Their fights mean something to the Relay for Life and American Cancer Society as well. Supporters gathered at the "Cruisin' for a Cure" themed dinner to celebrate life - both ups, and downs.
"We see more of them at the dinner than we do at the relay because it's a more personal setting. The relay is crazy with chaos. We don't really get to visit with them and get to know them there.
Guest speaker Diane Dunbar shared her uncanny story of conquering breast cancer. She was the chair of the very first Relay for Life here in 1999.
"I never dreamed that I would be calling on the American Cancer Society to help me which I did in 2014, 15 years later," Dunbar said.
The Crimestoppers band was rocking! Photo ops, prizes, and poems were all a part of the party for those who beat the battle against cancer, those fighting today, and those who stood side by side with those fighters.
"Throughout the year, they've gone through a really good fight to get here," Bourlon said.
"It makes you feel very loved and honored," Dunbar said.
The Relay For Life of Angelina County will take place next Friday starting at 6 p.m. at Lufkin Middle School.