image-relay for life

For years, the American Cancer Society hosted a Relay for Life in Half Moon Bay. Now, Coastsiders are asked to participate in a similar event held at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica. Review File Photo

Planning is underway for the Relay for Life of Pacifica Coastside. This volunteer event brings together a community of people whose lives have been touched by cancer in a 24-hour team walk to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. 

El Granada resident Kathie Monozon has been participating in Relay for Life for the last 10 years, first in Half Moon Bay and now in Pacifica. She lost her husband to cancer in 2009 and turned to the group for support.

Half Moon Bay locals ran their own relay for 10 years, but that event was discontinued in 2018 when the American Cancer Society decided to consolidate events to reduce costs. Some local teams, like Monozon’s “Fighting for Friends,” joined up with the Pacifica relay, and the doors are open for more Coastside teams.

Monozon says that signing up with Pacifica Coastside has been a positive experience. 

“The Pacifica group brings new blood into it,” she said. “It’s a larger relay. There is more going on.”

Relay for Life is an important fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, bringing together 3.5 million people across the United States. Last year, about 350 people participated in the Pacifica Coastside relay, raising $138,000. This year, organizers hope to boost that number to $150,000. 

Beyond fundraising, Relay for Life raises cancer awareness and provides support for cancer survivors. Monozon says one of the most meaningful parts of the event is the survivor lap, during which cancer survivors take the ceremonial first lap around the track cheered on by all. They are followed by caregivers.

“They go in opposite ways and meet in the middle,” said Monozon. “It is really a wonderful, cathartic experience.”

Relay for Life continues for 24 hours, reminding all participants that cancer never sleeps. Each team is asked to have a member walking the track at all times, day and night, to symbolize cancer patients who must fight their disease without stopping. 

When they are not walking, participants can relax in their tents, visit booths to get information on cancer resources, enjoy entertainment, and connect with other cancer survivors. Monozon wishes that everyone struggling with cancer could have the support and resources she has found through Relay for Life. 

“There are so many programs that the American Cancer Society provides for caregivers and survivors that I wasn’t aware of when my husband was fighting his battle,” she said. “You don’t have to do it alone.”

This year’s event will take place on July 13 and 14 at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica. For more information or to register a team, visit RelayforLife.org/PacificaCoastsideCa. 

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