If your going
What: Relay for Life Kick-Off
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Dawson County High School, 1665 Perimeter Road, Dawsonville
Dawsonville residents Frank and Angie Huber know what it is like to personally benefit from the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
After Frank Huber was diagnosed with tonsil cancer known as "squamous cell carcinoma" in August 2010 he was offered a place to stay for his seven week treatment last summer at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Atlanta.
A residence funded through Relay for Life and other organizational campaigns, The Hope Lodge aims to provide cancer patients and caregivers with help and community.
"I was hesitant because it was a long way from here, but based on availability I was able to stay there free of charge. Thank God for the American Cancer Society for having a program like that," Frank Huber said. "I don't know what I would have done without this. I guess I would have had to just pass on."
The 31 Hope Lodge locations throughout the United States offer a temporary home for cancer patients and families who live 40 miles or farther from treatment centers.
Residents must be adults and must be receiving treatment a minimum of three days per week. During Frank Huber's residency he was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy five days a week.
"It's the most treatable cancer, but it is the hardest recovery," he said. "I have no salivary gland, although it is supposed to come back."
While underdoing extensive cancer treatment he was often by himself through the week as his wife was working in Dawsonville.
"The biggest asset I think was having other people around who are going through the same thing," he said. "[The Hope Lodge] offers all kinds of counseling and there is always some group coming up and preparing dinner for everyone. The staff is there to hug you when you need it."
Throughout their experience at the Hope Lodge the couple became more aware of the reality of cancer, the way it affects every part of the human body and people from all walks of life, according to Frank Huber.
They met other patients from Michigan, Florida, Connecticut, Mississippi, Tennessee and north Georgia.
Angie Huber believes she was able to be stronger due to her previous experiences with the disease. Her mother and grandmother both died from cancer.
"I think it was a good thing for me to have experienced what I had, simply because I knew that things were not going to be easy," she said.
Before the cancer diagnoses and treatment, the couple never really got involved with the society and Relay for Life. Now they plan to be avid advocates and volunteers.
"If you have never contributed, now is the time. [Cancer] affects nearly every family somehow," he said.
This year's Dawson County Relay for Life Kick-Off is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Dawson County High School. The theme is "Together, we are united against cancer!"
Chris Bearden and Justin Power are the 2012 co-chairs for the campaign.
In 2011 Dawson County exceeded its fundraising goal by nearly $30,000 with more than $87,000 total from 30 teams. Relay for Life also honored more than 120 cancer survivors.
This year the goal is to honor more than 150 cancer survivors and to raise $90,000 through 35 teams. The money goes to patients like Frank Huber and research toward finding a cure.
"Through the research that was done they know what to use and do," Angie Huber said.
"Without the research none of this would have been possible. Without the research I don't know if he would be here. It's that plain and simple. You have no idea what those dollars do."
For more information about Relay for Life or the American Cancer Society, contact Suzanne Hendricks at (770) 297-1176, Ext. 29062 or visit www.dawsoncountyrelay.org.