One of my favorite passions is fundraising for cancer research. These research dollars help in both detection and treatments of all types of cancer. Without funding for research, we wouldn’t have our mammograms, our PAP Smears, or our chemotherapy treatments.
This past weekend I spent 26 hours at our local Relay For Life benefiting the American Cancer Society. As a committee member, I was exhausted! In fact, I’m still feeling the effects of the all night event. Our event was a total of 18 hours long, yet that does not include the set-up and take-down times. This was my third year as the Survivor and Caregiver chair. I joined the committee team right as I was starting my breast cancer journey. After years of participating, I knew it was time to jump in with both feet to help plan an event that touches my heart every year.
I have participated in and fundraised for this event since 2007. Often times this is a family affair. Emma joins me after school is out. She participates as long as she can, and even fundraises on her own. Instilling the sense of giving so others can have an improved life is one trait I am happy to teach my daughter. My husband Eric joins us after work and has the sole purpose of making sure I stop to eat. It’s not uncommon for me to skip meals on Relay days. We all participate in our own ways and support each other throughout the fundraising and the night of Relay.
Two years ago I walked as a cancer survivor for the first time. Walking in the Survivor Lap is one of my favorite activities. I enjoy being surrounded by the sea of purple-shirted survivors taking their victory lap. I love the company I am in. Many of these survivors come for the comradery. They are surrounded by others that understand what they have been through. They look forward to the event each year – to take another lap around the track to celebrate another year of survivorship. When the caregivers join the survivors, I am in awe. The love and support for each other is strong. I walked the track this year with the purpose of taking pictures; pictures to remember why I fundraise. There are two of my favorite pictures from this year that shows the love and support family members offer. The first is of my daughter hugging me as I walk the track. For a young girl, she has a heart of gold. However, this is also a picture that speaks to me as I know deep down inside that soul she is concerned about her own future with cancer. The second picture is of my small family unit as we stop in the middle of the survivor lap to celebrate the love we have for each other. My husband and daughter are the reasons I am here today. Their love for me during a time when I needed it the most is the strongest love I have ever felt.
I am no stranger to cancer. I have watched numerous people in my life fight the disease. Many of them have lost their lives. This year, I placed 24 luminary bags to light the track. That’s 24 friends and family members that have been told the three dreaded words, “You have cancer.” For them, I Relay. I Relay for my daughter in hopes that one day we find our unknown cancer gene. I Relay so that she will never have to hear the dreaded words so many of our family and friends have had to endure. I Relay for my husband’s family, the grandparents he lost when he was young and an aunt that continues to show strength in her survivorship. I Relay for those that have left us when cancer took their life. Lastly, I Relay for myself, my sister, my mom, and my grandmother. We are four strong females that have seen breast cancer first hand, battled it and won.
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