Relay for Life dedicated to city employee

Rhonda Brown is honored at Relay for Life.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than half a million people are expected to die from cancer this year. To make more birthdays possible for those who are diagnosed with the disease, Relay For Life events are held in many communities including ours.

This year's event in Myrtle Beach is dedicated to the memory of Rhonda Brown. For 14 years, she worked as an administrator for the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. She died March 23, 2012 from breast cancer.

Steve Brown described his wife of 36 years as a family person who never met a stranger and liked helping others. Last month, Rhonda lost an 18 year battle with breast cancer that spread to her liver.

"I'm, I guess Mr. Fix it. I'm the guy that, I think I can fix everything, and I realized I couldn't fix this," explained Steve.

He said his wife was her own best advocate and recognized the end was near after her last round of chemotherapy.

"She kind of turned around and looked cancer right in the eye and said we're doing this my way," he said. "She quit drinking and eating and taking medicine. About two days before that."

Even while battling an aggressive cancer, Rhonda raised money for the event that is now dedicated to her memory. She's participated for years here, and in her home state of Iowa. Friday, those close to her are part of the team "all night for the fight." So far they've raised nearly $15,000.

"It's all about making people aware. It's all about getting people to jump on a bandwagon. This affects every person," said Steve.

Relay For Life is also about celebrating survivors. They are given the honor of walking the first lap of many that will take place tonight. Debbie Morris is one of them. When she was diagnosed with melanoma of the retina in 1999, she had a 50/50 chance of survival.

"I do this for myself, my husband, my family and friends. I had a friend that just died in November from breast cancer. My dad just died in September from lung and bone cancer," Morris added.

Morris is part of the team "Wacky Wizards. They've raised the most money of all the teams participating in the event so far, collecting more than $36,000 and they hope to raise more by the time the event wraps up at 7 a.m. Saturday.

There are still more Relay for Life events going on in our area over the next few weeks, including ones in Conway, Loris, Georgetown, Andrews, Florence, Marlboro County and Dillon County.