A third-generation graduate of Texas A&M, Victoria Smithers is a busy family practice doctor. A partner with Baylor Family Medical Center at Rockwall, she still finds time to participate in Relay For Life, the signature fund raising event for the American Cancer Society.
For the past four years, Dr. Smithers has been a member of a Relay team, and her office has sponsored a team for the past three.
Relay traditionally kicks off with the Survivor Lap, where cancer survivors walk, are pushed in wheelchairs or ride golf carts, while being cheered on by those in attendance. It is a big celebration for those who have triumphed over the disease. “It’s neat to experience the event with my patients who are cancer survivors. Walking side-by-side, sharing tears and laughter together; the experience gives me hope and helps me be more adamant about encouraging preventative care,” she relates.
The objectives of Relay are threefold: to raise money to find a cure for the disease, to honor those who have experienced cancer, and to empower people to become proactive in the fight against cancer.
“Relay For Life has a unique role of serving as educator for prevention and screening. In fact, one of my patients, a 53-year-old woman, is one of my best spokespersons for early screening. She had been reluctant to get a colonoscopy, putting it off for three years. When she underwent the procedure, we found a cancerous tumor that we were able to remove completely before it spread,” Smithers remembers.
“In medicine, it can feel like you’re not making a difference,” states Dr. Smithers. “But Relay For Life makes it personal. You can put the names and faces to the disease.” This year the Relay is very personal for Smithers, as her niece, Michaela Richmond, who is in remission from leukemia, is participating in the event.
“She is an amazing, brave, little girl, a fifth-grader at Nebbie Williams who is energetically involved in the American Cancer Society, raising money and awareness through her fund raising and public speaking efforts,” says Smithers proudly. This year the Baylor Family Medical Center’s team takes its name from Michaela’s nickname.
Team Mouse will host a booth which will feature Mickey Mouse balloons and a Disney theme. Michaela’s mother, Kate, is also a cancer survivor, as is her sister. Her mother suffered from uterine cancer, and her sister had a neuro tumor in her lung when she was a baby.
Michaela’s father, First Sergeant Tom Richmond, is currently serving his country in Iraq.
Rockwall County Relay For Life will take place on April 30 - May 1, 2010 at Cain Middle School. To register as a survivor contact Becky Branum at 972-771-8797. To register a team, contact Mary Poteete at 214-771-1900. To help sponsor the event, call Jeff Projelof at 214-334-9318.