By Hope Harrington Oakes
Mott Ellis remembers being angry when her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1991. “When Mom was diagnosed and I saw what she had to go through, I got angry,” Elli said. “There was no rhyme or reason to it.”
Ellis’ mom fought hard until she lost the battle in 2004. But in 2005, Ellis’ husband, Wayne, was diagnosed with an advanced form of prostate cancer. Ellis alos had a malignant melanoma removed from her arm in 2011.
The anger Ellis felt had turned to determination that she would do everything in her power to help find a cure for canc
er so that one day, no one would have to go through what her family went through. Ellis said she wanted to do something to give back to those who helped her and her family. Ellis said prayed to God that He would show her some way in which she could help. She believes that “God opened a door, and all the windows, too.” Ellis started volunteering with the American Cancer Society in Lowndes County, assisting with the many events they sponsor, including the ACS Relay for Life, eventually becoming the Lowndes County Team Development Chair. Ellis chose the American Cancer Society because she said they do research of types of cancer, not just one specific type.
Ellis, who works with Wayne at their business Ellis Woodworks, is mother to daughters Mandy Ellis Clark and Jaime Ellis Melton. She and Wayne have three grandchildren, as well. Mott uses her time and resources serving on other committees, as well. Ellis is a member of the Mississippi State Leadership Council in Jackson, the Relay for Life Training Team of the Mid-South (where she covers six states to train other volunteers), the Relay for Life Advisory Team and she hopes to one day to be on the national team. Ellis insists that she is just one of many groups of individuals who work hard to help find a cure.
A True Volunteer
On Friday, at 6 p.m., the ACS Annual Relay for Life will kick off at Columbus High School’s Soccer Field. Ellis said they hoped to meet this year’s goal of 60 teams to participate this year. So far, over 60 teams have signed up and have raised approximately $50,000 in donations.
“We encourage people to do fundraising all year, and begin team captain meetings through January, February and Marc,” Ellis said. “We show them what to do, like how to raise funds, and recruit volunteer — basically, what to expect. It takes the full three months of meetings for people to grasp what we are all about.”
According to Ellis, a portion of the funds raised goes towards research and advocacy. A large part of the funding remains local.
“Early detection is one of the most important things we have and money we raise is vital to that,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ husband can attest to that. As a result of her involvement with the ACS, he got regular screenings. Ellis said they noticed his counts going up, and his cancer was detected. Surgery and radiation were successful and Wayne is in remission.
In addition to all of her ACS duties, Ellisis also the Relay for Life Team Captain for Beersheba Cumberland Presbyterian Church in New Hope. Once a year, they invite two people whose lives are changed by cancer to be their guests on Relay for Life Sunday, a mission project the church sponsors. Church members buy rare purple roses called “Cool Water” and send in $10 in memory or in honor of loved ones. This year’s guests received 50 roses. Ellis said it’s a wonderful testament of love and support from her church.
“I cannot give enough credit to businesses like Harvey’s and Huck’s, The Columbus Packet and the Commercial Dispatch that give back so much to our community by helping us promote Relay for Life,” Ellis said.
Ellis stressed that Relay for Life is not just for cancer patients and caregivers. She issued an open invitation to the community to particpate in Friday’s events.
Opening ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. with the Survivor Lap and the Caregiver lap immediately following.
At 9 p.m. the Luminaria Service will begin.
Luminaries are available for purchase In Memory Of or In Honor Of a loved one. “It’s a healing time,” Ellis said. “When I see people who’ve lost a loved one during the past year, it’s wonderful to see them supported by those who’ve been there.” She hopes that she is an encouraging influence, and does what she can to ensure that. “It’s an emotional time, but to celebrate the lives of these people is a blessing. I feel like it’s a God-led thing, and I need to do all I can. I feel that with all of my heart.”