1771 NC

Ray Felton

At age 40, Ray was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He’d had symptoms for at least a year, but he kept telling himself that everything was fine. Finally, his wife convinced him he had to go to the doctor. It wasn’t long before Ray was scheduled for surgery, after which he underwent 15 radiation treatments.

Ray feels lucky to be here. “The thing people don't understand about cancer is, when you hear, ‘You've got cancer,’ my first vision was that I had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and there was no coming out.” He did come out, though—the treatments tapered off and eventually he was declared cancer-free. But it wasn’t until he attended his first Relay for Life that his emotions caught up with him.

I feel like I’ve just done what everybody else wants to do. I’ve made a difference. And I think that’s what all of us want to do, when all is said and done, is feel like we’ve made a difference by being here. Ray Felton

“When I took that first walk around the track, it was the most emotional thing I've ever done,” Ray said. “It was about all I could do to keep from just breaking down crying—and that got me hooked on Relay.” That first Relay was well over a decade ago, and Ray’s been participating in Relays for Life ever since. He’s walked in at least 15 and gone to many others—because even if he isn’t relaying, he’s there to show support as an attendee or as a speaker.

It wasn’t his own survival story that made Ray want to donate to Vidant Health Foundation, though. It’s his friend’s ongoing battle with ovarian cancer for the past 15 years. “Every time you turn around, she’s in chemo again,” he said. When he was asked to make a donation recently, “it just rang with me that it was the right thing to do.” Ray said, “I think all of us have been blessed beyond measure, and I don't think blessings come without obligations.”

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