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The faces of survival

Relay salutes those beating a killer

Clockwise from far right, two of this year’s honorary survivors, Jean Cavanaugh and Jacob Hooker (both of Sturbridge) join Relay for Life personnel Casey Periera, Faye Sweeney and Jackie Brogna at a recent Relay event. This year’s third honorary survivor, David Tourtellotte, was not present. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
May 09, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — A recently released federal report asserting that environmental cancer causes are "grossly underestimated" highlights one of many reasons thousands of locals will be participating in this year's Relay for Life next month.

"Prevention is the key, but until that happens, they've got to find a cure," said Faye Sweeney, who coordinates the survivor-related elements of the Relay. "Prevention is foremost in my mind."

As with every year, Sweeney and others nominated several people to be this year's "honorary survivors" — people who represent the millions who have either been cured or are still in treatment. Normally there are four — an adult male and female and a youth male and female — but this year the latter didn't get any nominations. This year's trio is, in order, David Tourtellotte of North Brookfield, Jean Cavanaugh of Sturbridge and Jacob Hooker of Sturbridge, and all of them (Jacob's mother Jennifer, in his case) noted they did not know what caused their cancers.

For Cavanaugh, it was a brief bout with skin cancer about four years ago. The illness manifested as a sore on her head discovered by her hairdresser, but a quick biopsy and removal has left Cavanaugh without further symptoms. Unlike many, she said, she was lucky to not need chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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