He played in a band and she sat on the organizing committee. That’s how Bud and Linda Mabon helped out at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life in Goderich over the years. That is, until four years ago, when the couple did something completely different at the event. They walked the Survivors’ Victory Lap.

“We were both undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time,” says Linda. During the walk, she, her husband and another young cancer survivor carried the Relay banner. “A friend met us at the finish line with a bouquet of roses. There were a lot of tears from being belonging to a wonderful and supportive community.”

Months earlier, the Mabons had been diagnosed within weeks of each other: Bud with colon cancer and Linda with Stage 3 breast cancer. As they underwent rigorous medical treatment, family, friends and neighbours offered to help.

“We had people checking up on us all the time,” Linda says. “Our neighbour cut our grass, a friend shovelled our snow.” While the couple recovered from surgery, friends and family brought hot meals to the house.

Still, some days were really tough for the Mabons, who had recently celebrated 30 years of marriage. In addition to the physical and emotional side effects of the disease, the couple had to cope with financial strains as well. Bud was retired, and Linda faced the prospect of never being able to work again.

“We felt like we were in limbo,” says Linda. Their social life also came to a stop.

In June 2010, Relay For Life rolled into town. Instead of pitching in with fundraising or providing entertainment at the event – as they had done for years – Bud and Linda found a much-needed outlet for their ordeal.

“We were able to socialize and talk about the journey we were on, our fears and how we coped,” Linda says. “The support from the whole community was overwhelming.”

The next year, the Mabons spoke at the opening ceremonies.

“That was emotional,” Linda says. “The tears were more from relief that the treatments were over, feeling joy in the moment, and the need to go on and raise awareness about this disease.”

Now cancer-free, Linda and Bud continue to attend the Relay every year and walk the Survivors’ Victory Lap together.

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