A quivering, yet strong voice symbolized the hope for a cure against cancer at the Sunday's Relay for Life in Moniteau County.
The guest speaker for the annual event was former California resident Danielle Farris. The event brought in more than $57,000 for cancer research and the advancement of medical services for those diagnosed with cancer.
For Farris, the initial diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in her breast came in January 2018.
"I went in to my OBGYN and through a routine mammogram confirmed that I had a lump in my breast," Farris said. "Now, I knew this lump was there for months. But as a new mom, I just thought it was a part of the physical changes to my body that comes with being a new mom."
"Let me tell you," she said, "never ever assume that."
The day after her mammogram, Farris had an ultrasound and biopsy to make sure the discovered lump was indeed cancer.
"The entire year was spent fighting this," she said. "In February (2018), I started chemo and I had a double mastectomy in August, followed by five weeks of radiation in November and four months of treatments after that."
Farris said most supporters and relay fundraisers may wonder if their efforts are helping their loved ones. To this, she quoted a statistic from the American Cancer Society that relates close to home.
"There have been 1.2 million dollars raised through Relay for Life in Moniteau County since 2001," she said. "You know where that money goes to? Do you think it goes in a big bucket for some rich CEO to take fancy vacations? Oh, no. That money goes to research for medicines. Those medications are why I'm standing here in front of you right now."
The funds raised through Relay for Life have helped researchers perfect a drug called Herceptin, she said. Another medication relays helped fund the research toward is Tamoxifen, which helps to reduce the reoccurrence of cancer.
"For all you've done, fundraiser after fundraiser, meeting after meeting, I want you to know that your hard work has shown," she said. "I've received drugs that are helping me. To you all, I give a heartfelt thank you."
She said the tears she shed were never for fear of cancer; they were because of the love she felt from her supporters.
"The love I have received and continue to receive can never be repaid," she said.
After the testimony, Farris walked with a group of fellow cancer survivors around the track in a silent lap.
Lining the track were luminaria bags representing Moniteau County families, cancer survivors and victims. At the end of the relay, each luminaria was lit to remind the participants why they were there. A speech was given by Tammy Korte describing the meaning of each name and a moment of silence was honored as a PowerPoint presentation listed each name on every bag.
"This is the time for us to all reflect on how the disease has affected us," Korte said. "We are all here to share the hope that one day we can live in a world where our children will never hear the words, 'You have cancer.' Each name has a story to tell. And we are determined to honor the journey for those we love and change the future of cancer and find hope."