Relay for Life moves to Purks YMCA April 5

Published 7:22 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

The 2019 edition of Warren County’s Relay for Life has moved from its recent venues of Vicksburg High School and Warren Central High to the Purks YMCA, 267 YMCA Place. The event is set for Friday, April 5.

“The relay will be at the YMCA’s football field, which has a walking track,” said Trudy James-Brown, one of the relay’s organizers. “We had to move it because of the construction work going on at the facilities at Vicksburg High and Warren Central High School.”

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Work crews are in the process of replacing the tracks and football fields at the schools.

“It took us a while to find someplace, but the YMCA was able to donate the field to us,” James-Brown said. “We have 15 teams this year; we’ll end the relay at 11:30 p.m.”

A survivor

She said the guest of honor is Arlene Walton, a Vicksburg native and cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2017 with Stage 3 breast cancer and learned in January she was clear of the disease.

A retired teacher from the Vicksburg Warren School District, Walton was diagnosed with cancer in October 2017.

“I found a lump in my breast and I went to the doctor the next day,” she said. “I was sent the River Region for a mammogram and a biopsy in October 2017, and I was referred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Center.”

After her diagnosis, Walton said, “I went through hell. I had six rounds of chemotherapy, multiple scans, surgery, 51/2 weeks of radiation. I was told a CT scan looked suspicious and the cancer was spreading to my lungs.

“I told the doctor, ‘It is not, it’s not, I don’t claim that,’” she said.

It took several procedures to determine the cancer had not spread.

Walton said the six rounds of chemotherapy she received “was the worst.”

She tried to stop after the third round of chemo because of the side effects.

“It just made my whole body feel weak like I had the flu,” she said. “My whole body ached. I tried to stop, but my doctor told me I could not stop, because the chemo, while it was making me sick, was also killing the cancer in my body. By the end of the sixth round I was dragging. I don’t think I could have tolerated any more.”

She had her last CT scan Jan. 10. She went for her last visit Jan. 17 and was told by her doctor the scan was clear with no cancer.

“I was healthy,” Walton said. “I was walking in the Military Park the last three years prior; I would walk at least three to five times a week 3-4 miles; I did not have any health issues at all so I think because I was healthy and my strong religious belief, I just felt everything was going to work out, and it did.

“I have 13 brothers and sisters and friends, so I had a lot of support to help me along the way. I have sisters in Jackson and Brandon.”

Walton stayed with her sister in Jackson while she was taking radiation therapy for 51/2 weeks that targeted the left lymph node in her neck and injured the inside of her throat, making it difficult for her to eat.

“What got me through everything was my family and a lot of friends and a lot of prayer. I thank God that He decided to save my life. I never take anything for granted. I just try to wake up and be thankful and hopeful every day.”

Walton said people need to be vigilant about their health, adding early detection of cancer means the disease can be eliminated faster.

“Those of us who have been diagnosed with cancer and are now cancer free, still live on the edge,” she said, “because we never know when it could return.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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