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Widows Bond Over Greenwich's Relay for Life

Greenwich Relay for Life team Captain Betty Wistrand’s husband died of pancreatic cancer 18 years ago. Team Captain Nancy McCauley’s husband worked at the same company as Wistrand when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The two women supported each other through their grief.

“We’ve become very close friends through this tragedy that we both went through,” said McCauley.

Wistrand agreed. “It’s mutual support. You don’t even have to say anything to each other to know what each other is feeling,” she said.

In 2007, the two participated in Greenwich’s first Relay for Life. Wistrand formed the team, the “KCB Krusaders,” and McCauley formed “MacAttack.” The two became co-chairs of the event and served in 2009 and 2010. This year, they have combined their teams to create “KCB Krusaders Meet MacAttack.”

“Once you get involved with [Relay for Life] it just gets into your bloodstream,” said Wistrand.

“The thing I love about it is it’s for all cancers,” said McCauley. “It makes more sense for me.”

This year's overnight relay, one of many held throughout the nation, will be held on the Brunswick School grounds beginning at 7 p.m. June 10 and ending the next morning. “The honorary guests are the survivors, and the whole night focuses on that,” said Wistrand, adding her favorite part of the evening is the “Luminari,” in which members from each team take a lap with candles.

“In the end you feel so much pride and joy when the day comes,” said McCauley. “This is my way to give back in my memory of my husband. No one wants to hear the words ‘you have cancer’ so you want to give back to all those who supported you through your whole journey, which was not a happy one.”

The two are always raising money through friends, their jobs or church. McCauley’s church, St. Mary’s Parish, is holding a bake sale June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon to fundraise for the relay.

So far, the 35 teams involved have raised $33,000, still short of their goal of $100,000. “Even in a heavy recession, each year we raise more and more money. Just given that, it shows the community is so supportive,” said McCauley.

Have you ever taken part in Relay for Life? Comment below.

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