24-hour fundraiser and awareness event gets moving on Saturday

Laura Trujillo didn't know she needed Relay For Life until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, eight years after beating the disease, Trujillo and her family are gearing up for another Relay.

"We make it a family event," she said, adding that her sons are coming from San Jose and Santa Rosa and are bringing their friends. "They all have a reason to be there. It's a family reunion."

Trujillo, who says a mammogram and early detection saved her life, will be on the track at Del Norte High School this weekend with other survivors, caregivers and anyone else whose lives have been touched by cancer - and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Eighteen teams will be holding bake sales, selling Indian tacos, seeking sponsors and holding raffles to raise money for cancer research, said Jeri Ann Evans Scherer, 2013 event chair.

This year's theme is "In it to win it," she said.

"It's an open theme," Scherer said, adding that last year's local Relay For Life event raised about $80,000. "We didn't really set a goal. We're out to raise as much as we can."

Scherer said she was introduced to Relay For Life when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Because the cancer was caught early, Scherer said she had to go through a hysterectomy to remove it but has been cancer-free ever since. She said she feels lucky because she didn't have to go through radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

"That's the reason for the Fight Back part of relay," which encourages women to get screenings, such as mammograms and pap smears, to detect cancer.

Scherer said. "We want to make sure women get tested."

Laura Read, American Cancer Society representative for Del Norte and Humboldt counties, will also be using Saturday's event to tell people about an upcoming cancer prevention study. The American Cancer Society hopes to get 125 Del Norte County residents ages 27 to 70 to participate, she said. The study will focus on a person's lifestyle, their genetics and any environmental factors that contribute to the prevalence of cancer in a community, she said.

The study will begin in October and participants will be asked to complete a survey, provide a waist circumference measurement and a blood sample, according to the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society will also conduct studies for three communities in Humboldt County, Read said.

"They checked our county, the population and (our) cancer rates and that determined that they wanted to research it more," she said. "They feel if they can reach 125 people they'll get a big enough area, like Smith River and Crescent City and all over the county."

A previous study that was conducted roughly 30 years ago focused on cancer susceptibility in smokers, Read said. That study was the basis for many tobacco regulations, she added.

"They wanted to try to prove a point of how bad smoking was for you," she said.

Del Norte's Relay For Life celebration will be held from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday at the Del Norte High School track. Participants must register and sign a waiver of liability before going onto the track. For more information, visit www.RelayForLife.org/crescentcityca.

For more information about the cancer prevention study, visit cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.