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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Rachel Pott
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I am a marketing major about to start my second year at Northern Michigan University, however, this will be my third year in college. I previously attended a small community college...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Relay for Life

Northern Michigan University is putting on their seventh annual Relay for Life event this weekend to raise cancer awareness as well as money to help fight the battle against cancer.

Relay for Life is a 24-hour walk-a-thon that will be held in the Vandament Arena on Friday, March 25 at 1 p.m. and will last until 1 p.m. Saturday, March 26.  The event gives everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, to remember loved ones lost and to fight back against the disease, said Amber Baillargeon, a senior English major and Relay for Life committee member.

“I have seen cancer personally affect family and friends,” Baillargeon said.  “I relay for the dozens of people every year in my life that I find have encountered or are encountering this disease.”

Since the event is 24 hours long, teams participating overnight fill the middle of the gym with tents, Baillargeon said.  Teams also have on-site fundraisers such as selling food, games and many other items.

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“There will also be music, entertainment and some free food,” Baillargeon said.  “(But) the biggest part of our event is the ceremonies portion, which begins at 7 p.m. (on Friday).”

The ceremonies start out with a survivor speaker, a lap for all survivors, a caregiver speaker and a lap for all caregivers.  At 9 p.m., the Luminaria Ceremony begins; the gym lights are turned off, the track is lit with the luminaria bags that line it and a PowerPoint presentation scrolls names “In Memory of” or “In Honor of” a family member or friend who has survived or lost their battle to cancer, said Thao Do, a senior speech, language and hearing sciences major and committee president.

“The Luminaria Ceremony is a big part of the remembrance aspect of Relay for Life,” Do said.  “This ceremony reiterates our reason for relaying.”

This year the committee decided to dedicate the relay season to Trudy Johnson, a community member who lost her life to cancer this past January.  Trudy was the very first survivor speaker at NMU seven years ago.

“It’ll be very difficult for us not to have Trudy there supporting us again this year,” Do said.  “But this is why I relay.  With the funds that we all fundraise, we are helping to find a cure for cancer.”

So far, NMU’s Relay for Life has raised over $13,000 and the goal this year is to raise $25,000.  This year starting on March 10, NMU was challenged by the American Cancer Society to raise $15,000 in 15 days, Do said.

“I have so much faith that we’ll be able to succeed,” Do said.

Student participates in Relay for Life in memory of her father

Holly Fremling is a third year nursing major at Northern Michigan University and has been doing Relay for Life for three years.  Holly does Relay for Life in memory of her father, Michael Fremling, who was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in April 2006.  Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer that occurs with exposure to asbestos and usually occurs in adults 65 years of age and older.  Holly’s father was 41 years old when he was diagnosed.

“The doctors said that if he was lucky, he may have a couple of months left to live,” Holly said.  “Because this disease is considered terminal and there is no cure, the doctors he spoke to suggested experimental treatment.”

Her father decided to try the experimental treatments, and the first of them took place at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Ill., where they did trial chemotherapy treatments for about two months.  Michael didn’t respond to the treatments so he decided to leave the country for immunotherapy in the Bahamas that lasted two more months, Holly said.

“That attempt seemed to make his condition only worse,” Holly said.  “When he returned, he moved back in with my mom, sisters and me to be taken care of.”

Holly’s parents were divorced at the time, so it was hard adjusting to having both her mom and dad in the same house again, and, though they struggled at first, she said her family grew closer over the months.  At this point the only other option for her dad was to try palliative care and in-home hospice, Holly said.  Palliative care is specialized care focused on the pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness.  For Holly’s dad this consisted of targeted radiation treatment to help with the pain and then became dependent on oxygen machines.

“It was not just the tubes of oxygen around his face that made him so unfamiliar,” Holly said.  “He lost nearly 100 pounds during the course of his sickness, making him look like a skeleton, just skin and bones.”

Holly’s dad lost his battle to cancer on Dec. 24, 2006 with his family at his side.

“Now that I can no longer hope for my dad to survive, I dedicate my time to supporting those who have been diagnosed, honoring those who have passed and survived and encouraging all that experience cancer in some way,” Holly said.

Schedule of Events

12:00 p.m. Teams able to check in

1:00 p.m.   Starting Lap

2:00 p.m.   ROTC/Color Guard National Anthem

7:00 p.m.   Survivor Speaker and Lap

7:30 p.m.    Caregiver Speaker and Lap

8:00 p.m.   Survivor Reception

8:30 p.m.   Luminaria Ceremony

10:00 p.m. Dodgeball Tournament

12:00 a.m. Basketball Tournament

4:00 a.m.   LIGHTS OFF

7:00 a.m.   LIGHTS ON

11:00 a.m. Fight Back Ceremony

12:30 p.m. Closing Ceremony and Awards

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