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Ole Miss Pharmacy students prepare for Relay for Life

Oxford’s annual Relay for Life event is Friday, April 20, and one local team is going the extra mile to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

The Ole Miss School of Pharmacy team is currently in the lead for the most donations out of 21 teams on campus. With $4,218 of their $5,000 goal, the team is made up of 59 first- and second-year pharmacy students, each with their own personal connection to the cause.

Every year, the American Cancer Society hosts Relay for Life events in 27 countries to raise money for cancer research, celebrate survivors and stand in solidarity with those diagnosed with the disease. In the months leading up to the event, the pharmacy team has hosted several fundraisers, including a gift card bouquet raffle, a benefit night at Chipotle and next week, the annual “Taste of Relay” bake sale.

Jamie Stone, captain of the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy team, said participating in the event is important to her on a personal and professional level.

“Relay for Life has a near and dear spot in my heart. After freshman year of high school, my best friend’s mom died of breast cancer, and that was probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do, burying her,” Stone said. “It’s a way to honor her memory and to make sure no one else has to go through what we went through. If it can help save one life, it’s worth it.”

Relay for Life began in 1985, and since then, has raised over $5 billion for the American Cancer Society. In 2018 in the U.S., there will be an estimated 1,735,350 new cancer cases and 609,640 cancer deaths. That equals 4,750 new cases and 1,670 deaths per day, or 3 cases and 1 death every minute.

That statistic is one that is far too common, according to pharmacy student Mallory Maier. Maier is part of the UM pharmacy team, as well as the committee that plans Oxford’s Relay for Life event. She said she enjoys working for Relay for Life because it’s a way to honor her sister, a 15-year survivor of neuroblastoma.

“Unfortunately most people have a story, and my story is just one out of a million. My hope is that one day stories like mine will be one in a million, that cancer will no longer be a normal reality for so many people and families,” Maier said. “Participating in Relay for Life for me is about admiring how far we’ve come in medicine, celebrating the strength of survivors, encouraging those still fighting, honoring the bravery of those who lost their battle and uniting a community.”

Relay for Life of Oxford will be held at the Old Armory Pavilion on University Avenue. The Ole Miss School of Pharmacy team will be there with a patriotic-themed “Red, Fight and Blue” tent, selling carnival-style food and hosting games for attendees to win for prizes.

Participating on such a large scale is one way the pharmacy students give back to their community, Stone said. It’s a legacy she said she hopes younger students will carry on when she transfers to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson in the fall to complete her pharmacy degree.

“We spend a lot of time studying about diseases, and cancer’s certainly one of them,” Stone said. “It’s something you become really passionate about, because it becomes your whole life. Relay for Life is a way to get involved and make that difference, especially on the community level.”

To learn more about Relay for Life of Oxford, go to http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=87543&pg=entry.