Cancer survivor Dorothy Thomas has never participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, but this year she is chairing the event, which celebrates survivorship and raises funds for cancer research, education, advocacy and services.

Cancer survivor Dorothy Thomas has never participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, but this year she is chairing the event, which celebrates survivorship and raises funds for cancer research, education, advocacy and services.

"I was chatting with a bank manager in Bexley," she said. "We were talking about how I was going through cancer."

That's when she was approached about helping out with the Bexley Relay for Life. Before she knew it, she was heading up the event.

Relay for Life will be held at Bexley High School, 326 S. Cassingham Road Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m. to Aug. 8, noon. The event is the American Cancer Society's national signature event. It brings together teams of families and friends from local companies, schools and organizations to walk around a track in relay fashion.

The relay begins with a cancer survivors' lap around the track and a reception to celebrate life. Later in the evening, a luminary ceremony honors those who are battling cancer and remembers those who have lost the fight.

A Whitehall resident, Thomas lived in Bexley in the 1980s. This year's relay draws residents from both communities, she said, and organizers hope to raise at least $40,000.

The Relay for Life is important because it raises cancer awareness, Thomas said, adding that awareness will result in successful research to help fight the disease.

"Cancer is universal," Thomas said. "It is not prejudiced does not discriminate. It takes a village to raise a family to help conquer and find a cure for cancer."

Thomas was diagnosed with colon cancer in January but she was sick much longer than that. She had several colonoscopies but the tests never detected the cancer. One day while at home, she had excruciating pain and had to be rushed to the hospital.

"I was rushed through surgery, they did an MRI, the tumor had exploded inside of me," she said. "It erupted and I had six blood transfusions."

She was sick for about four years before they found the cancer. Emergency surgery was required to remove part of her colon.

American Cancer Society spokesman Yvette Livers said she is expecting up to 20 teams to participate in this year's Relay for Life.

The ACS is helping to save lives. Every time a relay is held, people celebrate, remember and fight back, she said.

"We celebrate survivors, remember those who have lost the battle to cancer," she said. "We get everyone together to fight back. We can all do something to make a difference."

Teams, volunteers and donations are still needed. For more information visit www.cancer.org or www.relayforlife.org.