An Interview with Scott Romanov
Husband, Father, Survivor
Interview by: Vivian Dippold | Photos by: Otto Dippold
The Relay for Life at Indian Summer Farms on Knights’ Station Road in Lakeland hosted the Cakes…Candles…and Cures celebration. Each person celebrated a birthday, a special birthday. One more birthday after cancer. It became one more year with the family. It meant one more additional year to learn how to live a better life. It meant another year to become healthier, stronger and wiser. But now, this kind of wise was the kind that only a cancer survivor can know.
Mary Church, the American Cancer Society representative for Polk County said, “With 11 relays in Polk County, we will raise thousands of dollars. This all makes it possible to provide funds for further research as well as better treatment and services for those with cancer.”
“It’s a year ‘round process,” Dave Regan, co-chair of North Polk County Relay for Life, said. “We look for places to hold the event. We look for people to get involved. And, then we make sure the money goes out to help kids go to R.O.C.K. Camp and see that people get the transportation they need for treatments. Then there is Hope Lodge, a place that offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay if their most effective treatment is in another city. Everyone is needed to help us raise the funds needs for this effort.”
Scott Romanov, co-chair for North Polk County Relay for Life has celebrated his 43rd birthday. At 40, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The news brought with it devastating consequences for Scott and his wife, Laura, an interview with Scott Romanov certainly left me with a new appreciation and understanding of life after cancer. With a family history of cancer, this event is an important part of Scott’s life. Here’s a bit more of his story.
Focus: Scott, tell me a bit about your family history.
Romanov: Both parents were of Eastern European decent – father from Russia and mother from Poland. My mother died from breast and bone cancer and my father from Lymphatic Leukemia.
Focus: You are of European descent but where are you from in the US?
Romanov: I was born in New York in 1969. However, I lived in the South Florida area until 2001, and then I relocated to Central Florida.
Focus: What is your career background?
Romanov: I have been involved in the construction Testing and Inspection industry for 15 years and currently work for Atkins North America (a supporter of the local American Cancer Society fight against cancer).
Focus: I know you are a cancer survivor. Tell me about your journey and the outcome.
Romanov: I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer in September of 2009 and underwent surgery shortly after to remove the cancer. A devastating outcome was that we would not be able to have children. But thanks to medical science and God, I am a survivor and a father. God has blessed me more than you could imagine. Our son Eli was born on May 15, 2011. I still undergo tests every six months to verify that the cancer has not returned. Thankfully, at this point, it has not.
Focus: How did you become involved with Relay for Life?
Romanov: Shortly after my surgery in 2009, my wife took part in a Relay team from Kathleen Elementary School where she is a Special Education Teacher. I attended a meeting for the 2010 Relay with her. She didn’t want to go alone and I was home recovering, so I went with her. That night my life changed forever as I listened to what Relay for Life was all about and I heard stories not much different than mine.
Focus: How long have you been active with Relay for Life?
Romanov: I started as a team member for Kathleen Elementary School where Laura works in 2010. I have been involved ever since. In 2011, I became the Sponsorship Chair and in 2012, I assisted as event Co-Chair.
Focus: What do you enjoy most about Relay for Life?
Romanov: I enjoy the time spent with people all working for a common goal. There are no personal agendas and for the most part, egos are left at the door. It is rewarding to be a part of something larger than you.
Focus: Why would you encourage others to become involved with Relay for Life events?
Romanov: Relay for Life is the one event that recognizes the need to raise funds for cancer research. Not just for one type, but for all types. In one way or another, everyone will eventually be affected by cancer, whether with a loved one, or oneself. We need to take a stand against this disease and it will take all of us working together to find a cure.
Focus: What other organizations have you been involved with?
Romanov: Before my diagnosis, I thought cancer only affected “old people”. At 40 years old, I didn’t consider myself to be a part of that group. Up until then, I had no affiliations with any organization, but it took a traumatic event to make me see the importance. I only hope that others get involved, so perhaps they won’t have to go through what I and many people like me have. In a way, we do this for those that can’t.
Focus: Tell me about an event throughout the Relay of Life that is significant to you.
Romanov: The most significant event at any Relay has got to be the Luminaria Lap, held just after sundown. This is to show our love, support and determination to not let those we have lost, those still fighting and their families think this was in vain. We do this event for them, and they are not alone.
Focus: Who else works on this event with you?
Romanov: There are numerous volunteers just like me that take time to organize and run this event. The event Co-Chair with me was Dave Regan of Walgreens. Additionally, my wife Laura was a huge help to me as the Fundraising Chair.
Focus: Who would you like to acknowledge in this piece?
Romanov: I would like to acknowledge my wife Laura who is not only on the committee but has also had to be my caregiver, as well as Kelly Edwards who has been the Luminaria Chair. Much of the logistical efforts were taken on and handled by Dave Regan and without him, I’m not sure we could have held the event. So that said, a huge thanks to him.
At Relay for Life, there were so many others with situations such as Scott’s. Each survivor has encouraged sponsors and organized teams to support this great effort. Scott pointed out that each one had a story to tell.
Bristol Wells, 14, was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer about three years ago. She explained: “I had many tumors taken out and they were cancerous. I then had the whole thyroid taken out. I was out of school a lot but I am a survivor. Now, I can understand how other people – older people and kids – [with cancer] hurt. [Through this] I know – God has a place for me. He is my strength. This event [Relay for Life] is happiness for me. I have a big support system and they come out, cheer and walk with me. [My hope is that] in this generation we will find a cure, so no one else has to go through this.”
Bristol, team leader for Bristol’s Cancer Kickers, is an energetic young lady who offered an infectious smile as she assisted in carrying the Relay for Life banner to open the relay.
Lureathea Carr is 64. She had breast cancer in 1994. She is a survivor in more ways than one and described her commitment to the cause “The greatest thing I have achieved through this whole thing is that I learned a lot about different cancers, about myself, my faith and my health. I learned a great deal about the importance of a mammogram and self-examination. Because when I found my lump [it was after the mammogram] and it was massive. I thank God every day that I am here. Relay for Life is my mission. This is my 7th relay this year. We are going to find a cure. This event raises money to help find that cure.”
Lureathea and her husband share the good fortune of having another year together and the opportunity to celebrate another birthday – cancer free.
Focus: Thank you, Scott for sharing and increasing our awareness of what can be done to help find the cure. Finally, what can someone do to help in Relay for Life?
Romanov: Simply put……Get involved. Go online and look for a Relay for Life event in your area and volunteer. For information about Relay for Life, you can go to the following websites: www.relayforlife.org or www.cancer.org or call 863-688-2326.