BRUNSWICK — In a way, Peggy Thomas never fully grasped her cancer diagnosis in May 2015. It didn’t make sense because the disease didn’t run in her family, and her annual mammograms always were negative.
Yes, the Brunswick resident recently had felt a lump under her arm, but that was probably because her clothes were too tight. She laughed it off to her doctor, but she soon learned she had stage 1 breast cancer.
“Even today, my mind and body still haven’t connected that I’ve had cancer, because I kept going on with my life,” Thomas said.
On Saturday, Thomas participated in Relay for Life of Brunswick’s annual Chili Cookoff. About 15 amateur cooks and relay team members served gallons of mouthwatering chili at the fundraiser, which ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brunswick Community Recreation and Fitness Center. Diners donated at the door, but cancer survivors were given complimentary admission.
The cookoff raised about $1,200. The money will count toward the fundraising goal of each relay team. Eventually the donations will go to the American Cancer Society for research and support services.
The annual Brunswick Relay for Life is scheduled for early June in front of Brunswick High School on Center Road. Similar relays, all raising money for the cancer society, are planned throughout the United States.
Jamie Smith, senior community manager with the cancer society and manager of Brunswick Relay for Life, said events like the Chili Cookoff are more than fundraisers.
“It’s a good place for cancer survivors and their families to heal,” Smith said. “I like to sit down with them and hear their stories, and they talk to others who have been through the same thing.”
Thomas, who is healthy today thanks to four rounds of chemotherapy and 20 radiation treatments, agreed, saying that cancer patients and survivors are connected.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, people you don’t even know come up to you and say they’re a cancer survivor,” Thomas said.
Some teams and individuals at the cookoff won awards for their chili concoctions. The judges were Jim Burns, chairman of the Hinckley Township Board of Trustees; Bob Gillingham, owner and president of Bob Gillingham Ford in Parma; Eric Jarold, a longtime Relay-for-Lifer; and Colleen Swedyk, Medina County recorder.
First place from the judges was awarded to First American Loans, for chili prepared by Jamie Ansel. The runner-up was Brunswick Councilman Joe Delsanter.
The people’s choice winners were Brunswick City Manager Carl DeForest and co-cook Margaret Tsai. The runner up was the Rotary Club of Brunswick.
Messages may be left for Bob Sandrick at (330) 721-4060.