Giving Back: St. John revs up cancer fight

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

LAPLACE — About half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society also says over 1.5 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year. Anyone can get cancer at any age, but the risk goes up with age.

“Everyone knows somebody who has been touched with cancer,” said Michelle Cazenave 2016 event lead of St. John Parish Relay For Life.

St. John the Baptist Parish’s Relay for Life group is getting ready for the next Relay for Life event.

“Relay for Life is a community event,” Cazenave said. “People come together, form teams and raise money for the American Cancer Society. There are games and music. It’s almost like a fair, but there are no rides.”

The St. John group will be hosting a 2015-2016 season kick-off party from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at Grapevine in LaPlace.

“At the kickoff party, we really just want to welcome people to Relay who may not know what it is,” Cazenave said. “We will give them information, and let them know about some of the things we have in store for this years Relay season.”

To participate in the event, people form teams made up of friends, family members or co-workers. The teams raise money, and the money is given to the American Cancer Society for research.

“The more teams, the more people at the event and the more money for research,” Cazenave said.

According to the Relay for Life website, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event to end cancer. It unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action to finish the fight once and for all.

There is more to the event then just games and listening to music.

According to Cazenave, the survivor lap can be an emotional experience.

“Everyone lines the track and cheers them on,” said Cazenave. “It’s very touching because these people have fought the fight against cancer or they are fighting now.”

After the survivor lap comes the caregiver lap, then the opening lap where all the teams walk the track together. The luminary ceremony happens later in the evening.

“The Luminary Ceremony happens at dusk and is a part of the evening where everyone gets quiet and we remember and honor our loved ones who have lost the battle. We continue to honor the ones who have made it through their fight,” Cazenave said. “Last year, we were able to take luminary bags and spell out ‘hope’ in the stadium and then during the ceremony, we changed it to ‘cure.’”

Relay for Life will be from 3   to 11 p.m. April 2, 2016 at Joe Keller Stadium, 400 Ory Drive, LaPlace.

Those who wish to donate or register their team can go to or check out their Facebook page. For more information, call Cazenave at 985-212-9940 or send a email to

— By Raquel Derganz Baker