Stories of survival
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
May 17, 2013 | 4178 views | 2 2 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Survivors honored
Cancer survivors Larry Actkinson (from left) and Frank Jurado talk as Actkinson’s wife Linda looks on during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life survivors reception on April 25. Actkinson was named the survivor of the year during the reception.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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“I don’t know what I would do without her,” said cancer survivor Alma Maier.

Alma Maier spoke about her daughter, Megan Maier, who was honored as caregiver of the year at a Relay For Life of Tracy survivors reception on April 25.

Relay For Life, which began in Tracy in 2001, is taking place this weekend for the second year in a row at Kimball High School, 3200 Jaguar Run, off Lammers Road.

The 24-hour team fundraising walk begins Saturday, May 18, with a ceremonial first lap led by survivors at 10 a.m., followed by a caregivers lap.

Highlights include a luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Saturday in memory of those who have died of cancer and in honor of those who have survived. The relay concludes at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 19.

Megan Maier, 31, has been caring for her 67-year-old mother since her diagnosis of lymphoma more than two years ago.

“I’m just trying to be her helper, her listener, whatever I can be for her,” Megan Maier said. “Not always been easy — been a bumpy road.”

The single mother of two said the pair has faced some scary moments together.

“It felt so awesome to get that award,” Megan Maier said. “I’m just glad I was able to do it for her.”

The battle with lymphoma is Alma Maier’s second fight against cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and she recently had a bone marrow transplant.

“The one thing I learned after I got sick is humility,” said Alma Maier, who had nominated her daughter as caregiver of the year and cried when her name was announced. “Sometimes it’s like she (Megan) knows what I need. I don’t know what I would have done, who I would have been able to turn to. It makes me feel like the Lord gave me a very special child.”

Megan Maier has been dealing with an illness of her own, fibromyalgia, but said she was just glad it had never hindered her daily care for her mother.

“She’s my mom — been there for me though a lot,” she said. “I love her. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

With a family history of lymphoma, Alma Maier said she was “fighting the fight” for others who did not survive.

Honored as Tracy’s survivor of the year during the April 25 reception was Larry Actkinson, who beat squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, three years ago.

In 2009, he noticed a lump on his neck and learned he had cancer on his tonsils that had spread to the lymph nodes in his neck.

He said he made up his mind to fight the disease, undergoing surgery to remove the lymph nodes, followed by three months of radiation treatments.

“When they tell you, ‘You have cancer,’ everything stops and you go from there,” he said, crediting wife Linda, daughter Alicia and his medical team for his survival.

Actkinson said he and his wife will be heading up St. Paul’s Lutheran Church relay team for the second year in a row. They hope to collect $6,000 in donations.

“Relay For Life is such a cool thing,” he said. “They recognize people with cancer and those that give comfort to those with cancer.”

According to Tracy relay chairwoman Hilary Gordon, the overall goal this year is to raise $320,000 for the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research and support programs.

Details of the relay schedule, including themed laps each hour, can be found at

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 19, 2013
I am so proud of my Dad!! What a surprise to see his picture and the article on Tracy's Relay for Life. I now live in PA and read the Press online,was tickled pink to see my Dad picture. So happy that he has survived his bout with cancer too!!
May 17, 2013
I wish to thank the Tracy Press for including my story of survival in todays story regarding Relay For Life. There is one statement I made that was left out of todays story. "I believe I was healed of my cancer by God." Once diagnosed with cancer my wife Linda and I would pray everyday for God to intervene by bringing us the best doctors, treatment, and caregivers possible. He answered those prayers and I'm alive today because of Him.

Thank you.

Larry Actkinson

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