Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – June 8, 2017 – Thomas Briggs’ only exposure to Relay For Life of McLean County was as a member of Normal Community High School’s Marching Band as the group participated in getting evening activity underway. But after NCHS’ musicians circle the track this year, Thomas will get to circle the track a second time – in the annual Survivors March – because of what he’s experienced in the past year.

As his freshman year at Normal Community High School was winding down in May 2016, Thomas found having exams and papers due weren’t the only item that might have produced anxiety for him. A nagging tingling sensation on his left side was followed by the discovery of a lump on his left side – both unusual and worrisome for the young man and his parents, Mark and Susan Briggs, Bloomington.

The discovery of the lump on his collarbone and on his side led to a trip to his pediatrician, who ordered several tests that determined Thomas had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What followed for Thomas was treatment to fight the cancer at St. Jude Medical Center and the Illinois Cancer Care Center in Peoria.

That treatment included a summer of four cycles of chemotherapy and 14 radiation treatments. His treatment was completed by late October. PET Scans last December and again as recently as March showed Thomas to be cancer free. He will however, need quarterly checkups.

Susan Briggs said the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, was “a wonderful source of information. My husband and I didn’t know anything about Hodgkin’s or what the possible treatments might be until seeing that site.”

His courage in the face of the disease is among the reasons Relay For Life of McLean County has named Thomas Briggs its Honored Youth Survivor. Relay For Life McLean County will hold its annual 24 hour event starting at 4p.m. Friday, June 23 and running until 4p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Normal Community High School. Our annual 5K event will begin with registration at 8a.m.

The 16-year-old said that, in the past year, he has learned that “most of the drugs used on me were from doctors who were funded by the American Cancer Society. I didn’t even think about how cancer can affect someone my age until I was diagnosed with it. If people donate, it will help doctors to find new ways just as they did for me.”

“He’s right about that,” said Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society, based in Peoria, said. “New ways to fight varying forms of the disease are discovered every day because money is available to find new ways to fight it by doctors who just want to see it end. Thomas’ story is proof of that. We couldn’t be prouder that Thomas is our Youth Survivor this year.”

“Thomas’ story doesn’t just show how helpful the American Cancer Society website can be, but also that money raised by our McLean County Relay has and will help patients,” Wright added. “Thomas’ treatment came about because there were dollars available donated by residents who cared.”

Relay For Life of McLean County hopes to raise $300,000 in 2017 and have at least 85 teams and 400 survivors and 400 caregivers at their annual Relay event. Relay For Life of McLean County will be held from 4 p.m. June 23 to 4 pm. June 24, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

In 2016, Relay For Life of McLean County raised $297,606. Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $7.6 Million to fight cancer. We are looking for more teams to join us in the fight!

Relay For Life of McLean County volunteer leadership and staff would like to thank our Presenting Sponsor, State Farm Insurance, and our Gold Sponsors, Country Financial and Avanti’s Italian Restaurant, along with all of the other sponsoring businesses and organizations for their dedication to helping us win the fight against cancer.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

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