Relay for Life Event to Feature Cancer Surviving StudentsApril 4, 2013

When Eric Penton was in the sixth grade, he received news nobody wanted to hear: Penton was diagnosed with cancer.

Penton, now a freshman at Rockhurst University, was in middle school in Columbia, Mo., when he visited the doctor’s office with his parents to find out why one of his lymph nodes was swollen. After having a biopsy and sending the sample out for testing, it was determined that Penton, then 11 years old, had stage-one Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It was really scary because, at that age, you don’t know what cancer is, but you know it’s bad,” Penton said. “My mom told me I was always a healthy kid. Being diagnosed with cancer was a big shock for them and for me. They had never been close to anyone who had cancer and they didn’t know what to expect.”

After months of treatment, including chemotherapy, Penton’s doctors determined that the cancer was gone. He has been in remission since April 2006.

On Friday, April, 5, Penton will be sharing his story of survival in front of a crowd of eager cancer survivors, their families and supporters for Rockhurst University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s annual Relay for Life.  

So far, more than 570 participants in 55 teams have raised more than $31,700 for the American Cancer Society.

Becky Squiers, Kearny, Neb., junior, and chair of this year’s relay committee, said she was confident that the schools would be close to reaching their goals of 800 participants and raising $70,000.

The money raised from the relay helps the American Cancer Society’s transportation and lodging programs, as well as programs that help cancer patients boost their self-confidence while undergoing chemotherapy, and pairs current cancer patients with other cancer survivors.

Because of renovations to Lower Bourke Field, this year’s relay will be held inside the Convocation Center and Mason-Halpin Fieldhouse.

People can still sign up and donate online, or at the registration table prior to the event.

Despite going through such a tough experience as a child, Penton said, in a way, he was glad it happened.

“Looking back on it, I can say that the experience gave me more of a positive outlook on life and it gave me more of an appreciation for the little things in life,” he said. 

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