Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Cancer survivors and others participating in the Relay For Life carry the American flag through the Rutland fairgrounds on Saturday.
Some people battle cancer and win. For others, like Amanda Loree, the battle isn’t over.
The Wallingford resident was first diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 20 months old and she underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatment as well as surgery — all by the age of 3.
For 16 years, she was free of the disease, but at age 19 more tumors were discovered. Now, at the age of 21, she is fighting to prevent the spread of the cancer that has crept into her spine.
That’s a diagnosis no one wants to hear.
But at the 24th annual Relay for Life in Rutland on Saturday, Loree smiled while she talked about the fight of her life.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said.
Loree’s team, “Amanda’s Pandas,” was one of 72 camps set up by survivors and donating companies that participated in the Relay at the Rutland fairgrounds.
The Rutland event, a symbolic lap of triumph and perseverance over a modern day scourge for survivors and their supporters, raised close to $150,000 last year for the American Cancer Society.
This year, event co-chairman Nancy Greenwood said close to 1,200 participants had signed up and early estimates suggested the $160,000 fundraising goal this year would be far surpassed.
“I’m hoping for $175,000 but (event co-chairman Richard Rivers) thinks it will top $200,000,” Greenwood said.
Statewide, 13 Relays for Life were held this weekend and earlier this summer, with more than 7,000 participants raising more than $1.3 million.
In Rutland, more than $5,000 of the donations came from Loree’s camp, which was supported this year by 62 of her friends and family, according to her father, Ed Loree.
“This is the most team members we’ve ever had,” her father said. “She loves this. Between college and the Relay, this is her life.”
A father of three children, Ed Loree marveled at his daughter’s resilience and courage confronting a life-threatening challenge he’s never had to face and can’t shoulder for her.
“If I could trade places with her I’d do it in a second, but I can’t,” he said. “She said ‘I want everyone to stay positive because I am.’ I’m strong because she’s strong. We can all learn a lot from Amanda.”
For her part, Amanda Loree said she’s looking ahead to the things she wants to do. The College of St. Joseph junior had to take a semester off for cancer treatment, but her grades were strong when she returned and she said she’s looking forward to receiving her degree in child welfare.
“I love working with kids, especially those diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses,” she said. “I want to work with them to let them know what’s going on.”
While Loree continues to fight for her life, Kathy Doyle said she is celebrating hers.
The 52-year-old Ludlow resident was diagnosed last year with stage-three breast cancer — the most advanced stage of the disease.
“My husband and I couldn’t talk about tomorrow when I was here last year,” she said. “We just didn’t know.”
The road to recovery for Doyle was grueling, with successive bouts of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and a double mastectomy required to save her life.
But a year later, the cancer is gone and Doyle vibrated with energy before the start of the Relay.
“I have hair! I have life! I can eat!,” she said tugging at her red hair. “I have peace in my heart. It’s all good.”
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