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Lapping cancer: Survivors push through heat at Relay

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Cancer survivors and caretakers take part in the ceremonial opening survivor's lap at the Pasquotank-Camden Relay For Life on the track at Northeastern High School, Friday evening.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The temperature just before the start of Friday’s Pasquotank-Camden Relay for Life was 90 degrees. But factoring in the heat index, it felt at least 10 degrees hotter. 

Summer’s swelter was no match, however, for the determination of a group of cancer survivors who took to the track at Northeastern High School for the annual “survivor’s lap.”

"It keeps that feeling of hope alive," said one of them, 51-year-old Joy Harrell, who was participating in her third Relay for Life walk as a breast cancer survivor.

Harrell, a teacher at Weeksville Elementary School, underwent a double mastectomy but said she continued to work the whole time she was receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

"My kids are what got me through it. My family and my class. That was my support system," she said.

Harrell seemed a little surprised by how hot temperatures had gotten by the time the walk started at 6 p.m. 

"I didn't think it was going to be this hot, but it's hot," she said.

Another survivor walking the track was Arlinda Halfacre, 48, who served nine years in the Army. Halfacre has been an ovarian cancer survivor since 2012. She said the Relay for Life walk is an annual event for her.

The intense summer heat didn't seem to faze Halfacre.

"I survived cancer. So, I can survive the heat and the rain," she said.

Asked what she thinks about as she walks the track, she said it’s usually about how fortunate she is.

"Oh, I just thank the good Lord that I'm still here,” Halfacre said. “It could have been the other way, but God saw fit for me to still be here."

Walking alongside Halfacre was her husband, Delano Halfacre Jr., who served 20 years in the Navy.

Delano said he, too, has a personal connection to Relay for Life: his dad, Delano Halfacre Sr., died of prostate cancer.

"I miss my dad," Delano said, noting his mother-in-law and other relatives also have died from cancer.

Moments before the start of Friday’s Relay, Rod Moxley of Hertford was on the track. He would soon be joined by his wife, Toni, who survived kidney cancer.

Both are 72 years old and have been married 52 years.

Rod Moxley has undergone three surgeries to his back and had three hips replaced. He has to use a cane to get about, but he was determined to make it around the track.

"I might come in last, but I'm going to finish it. We're going to make it around there," he said.

Like other cancer survivors taking part in Friday’s Relay, Toni Moxley said she felt fortunate.

"God blessed me because it (the cancer) was contained in my kidney,” she said.

Asked what she was thinking about as she prepared to make the trek around the NHS track, she said

"That I'm thankful for another year," she said.

Kim Meads, one of the coordinators for this year’s Pasquotank-Camden Relay for Life, said before the event that the goal for this year’s event was $65,000. She said participants had already raised about $40,000 of that prior to the event.

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