The first time Cathy Meigh attended the Ohio County Relay for Life, she couldn't understand why people were laughing and having a good time.
This was an event dealing with cancer - not much of a laughing matter, she thought. Meigh stayed up on a hill away from the crowd, watching and wondering, hoping no one would notice she was bald and laugh at her for it.
Meigh had a bandanna on because she was going through chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer and had no hair.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling Park’s Good Lake is the site for the Ohio County Relay for Life set to begin at 1 p.m. Friday.
"I thought, what's wrong with you people - you have cancer," Meigh said.
And then a ceremony involving lighted bags around Good Lake started - and that changed everything.
"I started walking away, and then I saw the luminary ceremony. It changed my life - I got the point. It was a celebration of life. I could see why they were laughing. They were honoring people. At first, I thought, you're rude. And then I went down and saw people and started talking and I was hooked. That was in 2007," Meigh said.
Meigh has survived three battles with lung cancer. At 1 p.m. Friday, Meigh - a Relay for Life committee chairwoman - will gather with hundreds of other survivors, loved ones and caregivers at Wheeling Park's Good Lake for the annual Ohio County Relay for Life.
The event, which has 62 teams participating and 131 survivors registered, will continue until 1 a.m. Saturday. Teams aim to have at least one member walking around the lake during the entire 12-hour time period.
Meigh said every year the event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, increases in participation.
"It's moving. Anyone that comes won't leave without feeling something," Meigh said. "I think that's why it grows - people come and see what it's about and then come back every year."
In addition to the annual luminary bag ceremony at dark, which honors lost loved ones and survivors, some new events are planned for this year. For example, a bean bag toss tournament is slated from 3-5 p.m.
And at 10 p.m. a Fight Back ceremony will be held that involves the display of a banner signed by people during the day.
The banner will include people's plans on how they will fight cancer, such as quitting smoking, eating better, exercising or getting a mammogram.
"We hope it gets a good response. We have a lot of people in the community affected by cancer. A lot of people want to fight back," Meigh said.
There will also be a Caregivers Cafe at the amphitheater where caregivers can drink free coffee and chat.