KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For 100 years, the American Cancer Society has been leading the way in the fight against cancer. Relay for Life has been the heart and soul of the organization’s grassroots efforts to raise money for cancer research. We decided to find out just where the money goes.
“It’s hard to put into words what you feel when you hear those words ‘you have cancer,'” said Michael Holtz.
It’s been two years since Holtz heard those words. He was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer in 2012. His last treatment was on February 20, 2013.
“I tell people it’s a good thing my wife was with me, because she was able to take notes and I heard nothing after ‘you have cancer,'” he said.
Holtz is now one of the 14.5 million cancer survivors living today in the United States, a number that continues to grow, he says thanks to the ACS.
“I’m just one story. I’m just one guy that was diagnosed with cancer and sees how it impact me and my life. That’s happening for millions of people.”
For almost 30 years, Relay for Life events have raised millions of dollars that go directly towards programs with the ACS, including cancer research and advocacy.
There are four programs that have an immediate impact on patients: Hope Lodges, where cancer patients stay for free during treatments; Road to Recovery, in which volunteers drive patients to and from appointments; the Look Good, Feel Better program, where women are given the resources to look good and feel better; and Reach to Recovery, which provides support for breast cancer survivors.
Holtz says he has been a relayer for 16 years, but now after battling cancer, relaying and walking the survivor’s lap means so much more.
“It was one of those life changing things I will never forget – the goose flesh feeling of walking around that lap, and my coworkers ringing cowbells, and people cheering you on and realizing for the first time in my life I was on the other side,” he said.
Holtz is living proof the organization does amazing work.