Saturday, June 5, 2010

Relay for Life

If you ever have a chance to attend a Relay for Life event, I would highly recommend it. It’s not the best speaker you may ever hear or perhaps as entertaining as the most wonderful concert, but the people are worth listening too. What the Relay for Life is a platform for storytelling, for people who have walked through similar situations to walk laps together. One lap is for survivors, another for caregivers, a lap in silence for memories, a lap to celebrate the eventual defeat of cancer.

I think one of the thing about these events that always strikes me is that this is a moment of leveling. There are very young and very old, those who have been free of cancer for many years and those who are still fighting. But, everyone who walks the first lap of survival, everyone who walks the second lap of caregivers, everyone who walks for fundraising or just to show solidarity, they all have a story to tell. From the individual who is still feeling the effects of chemo or another prescriptive treatment, to the family and friends who have stood with another in the fight, they are all part. Relaying together, walking together, it is such a wonderful reminder that we are not alone in the fight. There are others who are walking on the track with us, others who have lost sleep with worry, who have undergone surgery, who have waited in the waiting room.
I love the signs you see when you walk in to the track. Reading left to right, you see Celebrate, Remember, Fight in bold and bright colors. I walked the track with my mom as part of the caregivers lap after watching my dad watch the survivors lap. I celebrate the days I have, I celebrate the medical research that has allowed him to still be here and part of my life. I celebrate the life lessons we have learned as a family. Not easy lessons to be sure, but good ones. I celebrate the friendships made, the hugs that have been shared. I celebrate that I can now walk with someone else through this and be a little more understanding, not just empathetic. I remember the look of my dad in the hospital. I remember when a lap around the hospital floor was a great victory. I remember the days of tears and worry. I remember the prayers that were shared, the phone calls and cards, e-mails and messages. I remember the friends and family who showed such amazing support. I remember capable nurses and doctors, home nurses and even nurse friends who leant their support and expertise. I have been part of the fight, fighting against infection by washing door knobs and phones. I have been part of the fight by demanding, sometimes on the verge of tears and fury that a positive attitude be kept. I have been part of the fight to demand of myself to be a help where I can.
Let’s Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back – relay on together.