Cancer survivors share stories, help raise about $54,000
By Cynthia Mendoza

As hot and sweltering as the heat was on Saturday, May 17, it wasn’t hot enough to bring down anyone’s spirits or energy for the 2008 Relay For Life at Colton High School. Family members and friends of loved ones who either passed away or were currently battling cancer came out in full force to walk to help find a cure for cancer. According to organizers, there were about 1,000 registered walkers and 35 teams participating, but better still was the fact that there were about 100 survivors participating.

One of those people was Annette Lopez, 49 from San Bernardino, who survived endometrial cancer. Annette was working as a bus driver for the Colton Joint Unified School District at the time she was diagnosed.

“I thought I was healthy,” she recalled. “But a sonogram revealed cancer in my uterus lining.”

After having surgery, her doctor told her she was fine, but sometime later a blood clot and a mass were discovered. A biopsy revealed that she had a four centimeter tumor in a lymph node which was pushing against her aorta.

After 39 treatments of radiation and chemotherapy under a new doctor, she has been in remission for two years.
Some nerve damage remains and there is still a blood clot but Annette’s attitude is a positive one.

“I changed my diet to one high in antioxidants and I share my experience with others,” she said. “I see life differently now. Life is too short, life is very valuable.”

Today Annette eats a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and drinks a lot of water. She avoids having too much BBQ and especially lunchmeats which have cancer causing nitrates.

“Stay positive and get on a healthy diet,” she advises others who may be battling the disease.

Deborah Mount, 58, is another survivor whose positive outlook has helped her get through difficult times.

The Rialto High School art teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. Out of concern for their teacher, students formed a club to raise awareness and promote prevention among teens. Deborah is the club advisor.

The teens do community services at Loma Linda University, Kaiser Permanent and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

“I went in for my yearly physical and they found a lump,” recalls Deborah of her diagnosis.

For Deborah, such a diagnosis was particularly scary given that her father, aunt and cousin died of cancer and her mother survived.

During the time of her diagnosis and subsequent treatment, Deborah wasn’t overwhelmingly sad, however.

“I felt supported by family, friends, students and my church,” she said of her support system.

Her husband Ted is a pastor at Centerpoint Church in Colton. Ted shaved his head as well when Deborah was undergoing treatment.

“My attitude is gratitude,” she said of her outlook on life. “I’m thankful for today.”

And Annette and Deborah both have something, or rather someone, in common; Susan Arenagy, a Nurse Supervisor in the Oncology Department at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, a woman they can’t say enough good things about or stop showering with hugs.

“She’s a good nurse,” said Annette. “She’s the Angel of nurses, she’s very caring.”

And these two courageous human beings are just two of thousands who were represented at Relay for Life who experienced very difficult times but emerged victorious, if not physically, then in spirit. And Susan was just one of many caring health care professionals who help ease the burdens of their patients through their caring.

According to organizers, this year’s Relay For Life raised approximately $54,000.

And in spite of the unrelenting heat, ice cold water was more than abundant thanks to McClain’s and the Target Distribution Center who donated an apparently bottomless supply the whole weekend.

For more information on Relay for Life call Darlene Duron at (951) 536-4106.
Unity Day draws 1000 in spite of heat
By Cynthia Mendoza

In spite of the unforgiving heat, on Saturday, May 17 at Chavez Park, Unity Day once again accomplished its goal of bringing the community together for a day of camaraderie, good food, entertainment and good fun.

The idea for creating such an event was brought forth by then councilmembers Sara Zamora and Helen Ramos after attending a conference in Northern California where other cities shared the success of their Unity Day event.

The idea was then implemented in Colton and became an immediate success since its first year, approximately in 2001.

This year’s event included an expanded children’s play area with pony rides, a giant inflatable slide and fun zone, train rides, which the adults enjoyed as well, and a gladiator type of arena and game.

In a new twist however, this year’s Unity Day included a car show rather than a chili cook off as in years past, where chili champions from throughout Southern California showed off their best chili and competed for first place.

The car show was a success with about 20 entries.

The insufferable heat may have kept a few folks away but did nothing to dampen spirits of those who came to provide the community with entertainment in the form of dance including a ballet folklorico, an exhibition of traditional Latin dances such as merengue, and a troupe of line dancers.

Unity Day was also an opportunity for the community to acquaint, or reacquaint themselves with their elected officials and public safety personnel and the various programs and services they offer.

The Colton Fire Department and the Colton Police Department were on hand providing brochures, answering questions and giving out much needed fans for surviving in the heat along with other goodies and information. The Colton Police Department also had their two new off road bikes on display.

Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter had a booth manned by a representative who was giving out brochures and information relevant to constituents.

Elected officials who were spotted early in the day included Councilmembers John Mitchell, Susan Oliva, Vince Yzaguirre, Isaac Suchil and Mayor Kelly Chastain.

Staff included Best Best and Krieger, City Attorney and of course, Community Services was well represented by Director Bill Smith, and Deb Farrar and countless young volunteers.

And a Colton legend in his own time was also spotted at Unity Day, Mr. Max Lofy, who was responsible for helping to create and establish much of what is known today as Colton youth sports.

Food vendors selling tacos, churros and other traditional amusement park cuisine kept hungry bellies full and fruity shaved ice cones and fresh squeezed, arctic ice cold lemonade kept spirits high and staved off intense thirst brought on by the repressive heat.

According to Bill Smith, Community Services Director in spite of the heat, about 1,000 people attended Unity Day.

“It’s a great event to get the community out and to celebrate unity in Colton,” Smith concluded.