Leon/Havana Relay for Life "Kicks" off

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By: Ben Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 25, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Cancer is in for a fight this Relay season.

Wednesday night at Killearn Lakes Taekwondo on Thomasville Road, the Leon/Havana event introduced their 2018 theme; No Mercy: Taking Action to Kick Cancer's Butt.

Team sign-up officially opened at the event, which will be held on Saturday, April 28 at Leon High School.

The goal of the night was to get people pumped to join the fight. Event organizers released their 2018 goals, which include having 80 registered teams, 115 cancer survivors and raise $140,000.

While it might be too late to get one of the pink belts that were handed out at the event, it's not too late to join the fight! For more information, click here.

To help lead up to the event, I spoke with two cancer survivors and learned their stories. You can read about them below, or see them tell it themselves in the videos at the top of this story.

Ask Jean Amison what she loves, and she'll tell you the following: "I love breaking things. Boards, that is. Not people."

Amison did not let cancer break her.

She beat it once in the late '90's. Then, a decade later, it came back.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had just become a black belt," Amison recalled.

She and her husband had already fell in love with taekwondo. They initially started to help their youngest daughter with aspergers.

As it turned out, it also helped Amison.

"I found out probably a few weeks before a tournament," she said. "I remember somebody told me, Jean, go and battle that tournament like you're going to battle cancer, You're going to get through it, your going to show them what you're made of."

That was seven years ago.

Now, the cancer is all gone. And Amison is still here.

"One of our tenants is 'Preserver.' It's probably my top tenant," she said with a smile.

"She's amazing," said Geoff Amison, Jean's husband. "She's somebody I look up to because she's been through a lot. Everyday is living proof that I get to wake up and see her and just proud that she's here."

Jean says she used to hate the color pink. Now, it's everywhere, including her mouthpiece.

Every kick she swung and every punch she threw was too much for cancer to take.

The woman who loves to break things broke it.

Hayden Caous is 10 years old, and he's been fighting half of his life for his life.

"There was a tumor and they had to remove it," Hayden said as grabbed his head.

Just five years old at the time, Hayden was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma.

On the surface, his parents said it looked like a bad mosquito bite. Underneath, it was much worse.

"They gave me chemotherapy to get all the bad stuff out," Hayden recalled.

Cancer didn't just take away a normal life for Hayden, but also taekwondo for a few years. "I had to stop it because I got sick," he explained.

Until he was healthy enough to get back on the mat.

"I can't hold him back, that's the hardest part," said Johana Kesterson, Hayden's mom. "He survived. I have to let him live."

Now cancer free for two years, Hayden still takes precautions. He is tested when off the mat, and no one is allowed to hit him in the head on it.

But, the kicks and punches he now takes are nothing compared to what cancer threw at him.

He's winning that fight and is living like a 10 year old should.

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