Relay for Life launched on World Cancer Day

Evelyn Bernique, 74, speaks at a Relay for Life launch event in Cornwall, Ont. on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. The Vankleek Hill native has had five separate battles with cancer -- the first in 1998. She has been cancer-free for nearly two years. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – On this World Cancer Day (Monday, Feb. 4), the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society launched its countdown to this year’s Relay for Life.

The agency for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and Prescott-Russell held a news conference at Stomping Grounds Bistro and Cafe on Cotton Mill Street this morning.

Honorary guest Evelyn Bernique of Vankleek Hill spoke about her battle with cancer – five different cases – two breast, one colon, follicular lymphoma and basal cell skin cancer – during her lifetime. The first diagnosis happened in 1998.

Bernique, 74, urged people to get their annual checkups with their doctor and to know their body.

She says volunteering kept her going during her ordeal. “That’s important. If you hoard yourself up in your home and you don’t go out and associate with people and you don’t get phone calls, (that’s not good). Where, as this way (volunteering), there’s phone calls, people are dropping by for different reasons,” Bernique said.

Even with the multiple cases of cancer, Bernique has kept a positive attitude.

“Whenever I had the second breast cancer diagnosis and I had my breast removed in November. When the olcott test came back in December positive, I wanted to say, really? Enough already!” Bernique laughed.

Bernique said her husband, Gerry, has been her rock. “He got the brunt of it, if I was upset,” she chuckled. “He also ensured that I got my proper rest.”

She’s ready to celebrate her 75th birthday in May. “Very thankful to be here. Very thankful to have made it. My mum passed away at 54 (from breast cancer) but it was a different era then,” she said.

Bernique urges others to keep a positive attitude, if they get that first cancer diagnosis. “It’s not always a death sentence. It’s better for you and for those around you to remain positive and hopefully the outcome also will be positive.”

The 19th edition of Relay for Life in Maxville is Friday, June 7, 2019 from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Maxville Fair Grounds. So far, 10 teams are registered for the fundraiser, which will have a James Bond style theme.

The event raised $85,000 last year.

Evelyn Bernique speaks about her battle with cancer during an official launch event for Relay for Life in Cornwall, Ont. on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Joining her is Canadian Cancer Society SD&G and Prescott-Russell spokesman Allison St. Jean. Today is World Cancer Day and the Maxville Relay for Life will he held Friday, June 7, 2019. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)