A community comes together

Last updated 12:50 04/03/2013
Donna Wilson
Derek Flynn
Robert Wilson and his wife, cancer survivor Donna Wilson with their sons Jacson Wilson (10) and Cassius Wilson (3).
Bethlee McKeage
Derek Flynn
Bethlee McKeage (81) completing the survivors lap.
Margaret Frisken
Derek Flynn
Anna Frisken (11) and her grandmother Margaret Frisken pictured with the candle bag dedicated to Margaret's late husband John. Margaret is also a cancer survivor and wears the red (survivor) and green (carer) ribbons.

Relay for Life 2013

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Thirty-seven teams took part in the 16-hour overnight Marlborough Relay For Life event at the Giesen Sports and Events Centre in Renwick on Saturday and Sunday.


Cancer Society Marlborough events co-ordinator Hilary Gill said teams had raised $52,000 when last counted during the weekend.

This would probably increase as teams sent in their finally tallies, she said.

Picton woman Margaret Frisken took part in the Survivor's Walk on Saturday with her 11-year-old grand-daughter Anna Frisken.

The overnight relay was too much for Mrs Frisken, who had survived breast cancer.

Her husband John died of lung cancer in 2004 when he was 62. She also lost her mother to cancer.

The Relay For Life was a great tribute to those who had gone, Mrs Frisken said.

"You can think about them as you are doing the Survivor's Walk," she said. "It's very humbling as everyone lines the track and claps you along."

Mrs Frisken and her granddaughter decorated a candle bag for John, showing him in his Navy days.

ANZ Bank Loan Rangers team leader Erica Leadley said the candle bag ceremony was a sobering moment.

One of the ANZ team counted 285 candle bags, Ms Leadley said.

"It was incredibly surreal walking around the track in complete darkness and silence."

Ms Leadley stayed overnight at the venue on Saturday.

She had a 20-minute "power nap" during the 16-hour relay.

"I'm on a bit of a high, like an adrenaline buzz," she said yesterday morning. "I might go for a little nap now and go to bed early tonight."


Renwick woman Donna Wilson took part in the first Marlborough Relay For Life in 2005 to support her step-sister who had survived cancer.

Two months later, Mrs Wilson herself was diagnosed with cancer.

She was pregnant with her second child at the time.

"Our little guy was stillborn at 30 weeks," she said.

Mrs Wilson spent a few days in intensive care before starting chemotherapy to fight the Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes.

After only a month at home, Mrs Wilson caught pneumonia and was airlifted to Christchurch, where she completed her eight months of treatment.

Her last session was on December 23, 2005. "Not that I remember it clearly or anything," she said.

In 2011, just before her 40th birthday, Mrs Wilson was given her five-year clearance.

"Life is good for us."

The Marlborough Relay For Life event at the Giesen Sports and Events Centre in Renwick overnight on Saturday was an emotional day, she said.

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Especially as 10-year-old Jacson was old enough to understand what his mum had been through.

After the Survivors' Lap, they went home but returned at 10pm for the candle bag ceremony,. "It got quite emotional for him, walking around in silence."

Jacson always wanted a baby brother, his mum said.

The Wilsons had their youngest son Cassius through IVF treatment in 2010.

"He's our miracle kid, he carries the spirit of several," Mrs Wilson said. "From something bad there has to be something good . . . to be a light."

Her husband Robert, aka Pie, Wilson said the couple kept looking forward throughout their ordeal: "The great ones look ahead in life, they don't look back."

- The Marlborough Express


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