FREER - The Relay for Life of Duval County celebrated, on May 13 and 14, survivors that fought against cancer and won.

Relay For Life is about empowering survivors and the community to fight back. As A Relay For Life Ambassador, these individuals lead the fight and demonstrating the amazing Power of Purple throughout the community.

Like so many survivors they are all involved with the society because they have been touched by cancer or know how great the risks are.  They are proof that we can fight back against a disease that takes so much.

Joshua Ryan Lopez, 26, was diagnosed with colon cancer January 2016. He was admitted to Nix Health Hospital in San Antonio for his surgery, they removed a tumor the size of a grapefruit. He recovered in Nix Health hospital for two weeks then released to start his recovery time. Lopez still has a long road ahead of him, he still has tests being done and still has one more surgery. He knows with all the love, guidance, faith and God by his side he will beat Colon cancer. He also has the love of his wife Geneva, and their three boys along with family and friends to help him through the rest of his journey to survive. No one fights alone.

Marcus Lane Perez was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia  (ALL) on January 19, 2015.  ALL is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow—the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.  The disease progresses rapidly and creates immature blood cells rather than the mature ones.  Perez's illness was caught on time and had not reached his bone marrow. Perez has gone through so much in his little life, but won’t give up. He is undergone hospital stays, several procedures, many blood transfusions and chemo. His treatment consists of three years of chemo, chemo pills every night, steroids once a month and lumbar puncture procedures.  His last chemo is scheduled for March 31, 2018. Perez has been so brave through his whole journey and we continue to pray to God he remains cancer free.

Joe Pat Garza, know by many as Smokey, grew up working in he Oilfield Industry.  He helped build and supervise Straight Line Construction Inc.  In May 2013, Smokey was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer of Laryngeal.  Laryngeal cancer also known as cancer of larynx.  Smokey’s treatment required for him and his wife, Yolanda, to temporarily relocate to Houston.  The trail of pain and tears that Smokey endured through the course of his journey during treatment is one that cannot be easily forgotten, but has given Smokey a great appreciation for life.  After several months of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Smokey rang the bell at MD Anderson declaring that he was Cancer Free.  Smokey continues months of quarterly check-ups and in August 2014, again Smokey received disturbing news that the cancer was back.  However, this did not hold Smokey from pushing forward and continuously fighting.  His family continued with their strong faith, and urged and supported Smokey as he began therapy for several months in Houston.  Once again, after a long and strenuous battle, Smokey proudly rang the MD Anderson bell and declared that he was Cancer Free once more.  Through consistent prayer; the cancer has remained away and he prays it continues as such. Throughout these last three years, their family's faith has strengthened, and they continue to believe that all things are possible with faith, family, and support.  Smokey and his family learned, “Surviving Cancer is not the end of a gruesome story; however Surviving Cancer is the beginning of a beautiful story.” Smokey has paid his time with fighting to survive, so now it’s time to enjoy life and he lives by his motto, “It came, We fought, We Won...Now, Gone Fishing!

They join thousands of volunteers around the country who devote countless hours each year to help Relay For Life continue to be successful and grow.