Luminaries light up the Relay for Life track

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When the sun sets on Tillsonburg's Relay for Life, the luminaries are lit around the Annandale track.

"The luminaries are an inspiration as we continue to walk the track in their honour," said Julie Dawley, the Relay for Life MC Friday evening.

"There are many luminaries around the track with the words 'in memory of,' a painful reminder that cancer is a stubborn enemy. But there are also many luminary bags with the words 'in honour of,' a hopeful reminder that with your support, so many loved ones are living beyond cancer."

Friday night's luminaries, said Dawley, are just some of thousands of luminaries being lit across the province, the country, and worldwide.

"Together we are giving hope and inspiration to so many families who are currently facing a cancer journey."

While walking around the track Friday night, many people stopped at Leslie Cann's trackside table set up with bowls of beads. Not just any beads, but 'lap' beads.

"You buy a necklace for $5 and every time you go around you put a bead on, so at the end of the night you can tell how many laps you've done," said Deb Austin, captain of the Norwich Veterinary Service team brought, who brought more than 20,000 beads. "I wanted to make sure I had enough for everybody."

About 50 people took advantage of their Relay for Life fundraiser and created a keepsake for the night, including 58-year-old Ron Mitton, a member of the TRW & Unifor team.

"I've got nine beads so far, but it'll be full by the end of the night," said Mitton, a first-year Relay for Lifer.

"I'll get my laps in tonight and I'll be a tired man by the end of the morning," he smiled. "My son (Mike), he's working midnights tonight. He said he'd come up here at lunch break to do a lap with me."

Mitton, who was diagnosed with esophagus cancer, has not been cancer-free for a full year yet.

"They took my esophagus out and moved my stomach up here, the chest area. Moved some lung out of the way and re-attached stuff up here. It's been 10 months. Now I'm back to work and losing more weight. At my heaviest, I was 250 pounds. A year ago I was 212 when I was diagnosed with cancer. Now I'm down to 160."

But the cancer is gone, he said, and he has a clean bill of health.

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