by Texas Homesteader
Well, another year is on the record books for the Relay for Life in our area, an all-night relay to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to bring awareness to the evil that is cancer in all its ugly forms.
Back in 2013 my team members walked in my honor as I was going through surgeries & recovery to rid my body of breast cancer. They sent a picture to my mother as I laid in that hospital bed recovering from surgery – she showed it to me with tears in her eyes. How touching that my dear friends were doing something so powerful in my honor.
So the following year I proudly joined the team and experienced my very first Relay for Life. This year is only my second year, but it’s just as meaningful & just as powerful. But why do I participate?
Why would I scramble trying to raise money for the American Cancer Society? And why would I show up on a Friday night and attempt to walk
All. Night. Long?
Why? The answer is simple. HOPE.
So RancherMan & I made plans to attend this year’s Relay for Life event. It was requested that all cancer survivors show up at 5:00 for a special survivor’s dinner.
We were treated to a delicious meal served up all fancy-schmancy by an entire line of professionally-dressed servers. And we were presented with a special purple-colored survivor’s Relay for Life T-shirt along with a goodie bag filled with goodies that various companies had donated. Things such as candy, notebooks, pens, etc. It’s a very touching gesture that they cradle the survivors so, and it was an honor to be in that room with the other survivors – some of which were just young children.
Then we went to the track to prepare for our relay. Although the event’s usually held on the huge track outside, this year heavy rain was predicted so they moved it inside to the gymnasium. The different teams were setting up their canopies & tables. They will sell various things to continue raising money even during the event itself. They might offer face painting, a photo booth or various wares for sale. But most tables are selling food that relay walkers can purchase. It’s a very popular way to raise funds on the night of the event and there’s always lots of great food to be had.
Last year I noticed there were many ribbon-styled trinkets but no PINK ribbon trinkets being sold. So RancherMan & I purchased vinyl stickers, charms and key chains to raise extra money for our team. I had the Fight Like A GIRL cards and photo printed at a local printing company to both draw more attention to as well as organize to our small display. I think it turned out great.
The Relay for Life committee had some of the decorating done already and had taped luminary bags up on the wall of the bleachers to spell out ‘2015 The Cure # TAMUC‘ (Texas A&M University Commerce) I thought that was a very clever idea.
On the other bleacher wall were luminary bags taped up to spell out the word ‘HOPE‘. Right there – THAT’s the reason I participate in the Relay for Life.
I’ve been the one sitting in that doctor’s office when he said the ‘C’ word to me, I’ve felt that fear and that helplessness. I want to offer someone else caught in that same place the hope that we’re not taking it sitting down – we’re fighting to kick cancer’s butt. We’re fighting for the CURE. It’s my sincerest dream that one day no one will ever hear those words again with the same paralyzing fear that I felt.
The relay begins with presentations from several of the university’s top brass as well as a lifetime achievement award for a team that has raised $100,000 since becoming a part of the Relay for Life. Ironically that was MY team – the Crusaders for the Cure. I was honored to be a part of such a hard-working team.
After the presentations were made the start of the Relay begins by the survivors gathering on the track to make the first round alone while all other participants stood on the sidelines and cheered. LOUDLY.
Let me tell ya folks, this lap always brings humongo crocodile tears to my eyes. I’m so moved by the whole experience of being a new survivor and feeling this kind of love from complete strangers. As expected this lap left me with tears streaming down my cheeks – tears of appreciation, of amazement and of happiness.
After that lap the survivors complete another lap together with their caregivers, then the relay officially begins with all participants hitting the tracks. Each team has a walking-stick baton that a member of their team carries for several laps until it’s passed off to another team member to continue the team’s walk. Some college kids come in crazy costumes, it’s always so much fun to see who will show up wearing what!
The walk begins and 7:00 and it’s a very party-like atmosphere. There’s music playing and in the middle section people gather to toss a football or Frisbee, on the end by the music speakers there is dancing going on – sometimes line dancing sometimes Zumba, sometimes just freestyle dancing.
After a few hours of walking there is a slideshow presentation coupled with music depicting both various survivors as well as those lost too soon – it’s sure to bring a tear to your eyes. Tears of sadness for those who have lost their battles, and also tears of joy for those that are fighting and those who are finally survivors.
A luminary ceremony follows where all the luminary bags are weighted with sand bags and illuminated (with glow sticks for safety) and a silent lap is done around all those luminaries to honor those people. Luminary bags are purchased in advance and are to remember those lost to cancer and to honor those fighting the disease and also survivors. This year I honored a friend I’ve never met in person but whom I found out is just beginning her struggle.
I was touched to see a luminary bag was also purchased for me as well by dear friends. What a touching gesture from them! The relay walk continues hour by hour, the baton being passed when one team member tires and another takes it up and completes a few laps before passing it on again.
Every now & then the program breaks for some sort of fun activity like a zumba session or scavenger hunt – it helps keep things fresh & exciting. But the music always comes back & the laps continue. There was even a live band this year – let me tell ya those speakers were PUMPIN’!
All in all although the event is tremendously tiring, it’s so very meaningful. I’m honored to have been a part of it and I’m already making plans to attend next year!
More about my healing journey:
- In Sickness & In Health
- The Love Of God Through The Love Of Others
- Witness In The Strangest Places
- A Restless Night & Comfort Received
- The Garden That LOVE Planted
- Pretty In Pink: Going Too Far?
- Relay For Life = HOPE
See All My Stories About Cancer Survival
Other Inspirational Posts
- Many Flowers Make For A More Beautiful Bouquet
- Why Can’t We All Get Along With Our Fellow Humans??
- Generosity Shouldn’t Be Judgemental: Just Show Love
- My Journey May Not Be YOUR Journey: And That’s OK!
- The Power Of Love: Helping Neighbors In Need
- Gossip: Words Really CAN Hurt!
…and MANY MORE!
See All Our Inspirational Posts
I would like to purchase a key chain. Is it too late?
Oh, it is JD – so sorry!! The Relay for Life event was sure a meaningful thing for me, and I was glad to see a few more pink-ribbon trinkets available this year in addition to ours. ~TxH~
By all means, I don’t want to discourage you about walking that walk. I think the walk is more of a celebration of the survivor and honoring those lost. I don’t think enough people talk about their not so good experiences so that others don’t have those not so good experiences. I don’t know how anyone could call having Cancer a good experience, but if a person can find a way to feel a little better because their medical team said “I want you to try Vitamin C infusions to help with your nausea and weakness instead of some chemical that could have a serious side effect” the patient’s insurance should pay for it. For us, we were met with the seemingly discouraging remarks from Cancer Doctors, telling us no and flat out refusing to treat my Sister In Law IF she sought out alternative treatments. That’s what upsets me. When I see what alternative treatments did for my SIL and brother, I can’t help but think that could have been helpful for my parents, yet we were met with NO’s and ‘you can’t do that’ every time we suggested something, and they died! I’m happy there are programs and services out there to help the cancer patients. I just wish more of that money raised would go toward REALLY finding a cure. It’s a business, a huge money making venture. I know first hand how much cancer treatments cost, my husband had cancer in 2008. He’s cancer free, but he knows it will probably come back, and we’ll be on our own, as many insurances either won’t cover him or will price him out. My brother and SIL pay $3800 per month for their insurance because he’s a rancher, that’s only for the meds that aren’t alternative. The insurance won’t cover that. It’s like the medical system coming down on Dr. Oz for suggesting alternative treatments. The more people that use alternative the less money the medical industry and insurance companies make off us.
Judith, I totally understand where you’re coming from and I didn’t take your comment as a negative on what I was doing at all. We each have to follow our own paths and there are often reasons for the things we do. I totally understand, girl. (hugs) ~TxH~
I’m happy that you have such a strong feeling of hope by doing this. Having hope in something is what keeps us going. I have a real hard time getting on board with the whole Relay For Life fund raiser. I have walked in 7 relays! So I know what that hope feels like, I walked all those years for my dad who died of Pancreatic Cancer. I haven’t walked in 10 years, since my mom died from Leukemia. She too had breast cancer, but because they over radiated her in her treatment she then had Leukemia and it was an untreatable type. So I can’t help feel like they killed her. Cancer is a HUGE business. The cancer industry and their Doctors are the first ones to ‘poo-poo’ any alternative methods of treatment. We asked the doctors that were treating my mom at MD Anderson if there were any alternative treatments and they said they’d give her some kind of chemical treatment that would probably make her sicker, it did and her frail little body couldn’t take it. All they could think about was poisoning, never about making her stronger by feeding good whole foods. We felt like my mom was a disposable test subject. My Sister in Law and brother were both dealt the Cancer card a few years ago. She was in her last round of Chemo when he was diagnosed with stage 4 Prostate cancer. After her first round of chemo almost did her in (because she already had Ulcerated Colitis… oh the pain!) she was ready to throw in the towel and forgo any treatment at all. She sought out alternative treatments such as the Gerson Therapy (google it) and started following their advice on her treatment. By the time her second round of Chemo people were stopping her in the halls of Presby Hospital Dallas and asking her why she didn’t look and act like a cancer patient. By the 4th round of Chemo the Doctors asked her not to tell their patients about the alternative treatments and to quit giving out names of Doctors in other towns such as L.A. and Maimi that pushed for alternative treatments. By that time my brother was starting his fight. His Dr at Presby said that he had stage 4 cancer. His prostate was removed and he began getting shots to stop his body from producing the cancer causing hormone that causes the cancer. He was given 6 months to a year to live. His PSA was 99 to 1, meaning out of 100 cells 99 had cancer and 1 didn’t. 6 weeks later at a alternative treatment center in Miami his PSA was 1 to 99!!! Complete flip-flop. His Drs in Dallas didn’t want him to partake in any alternative treatments but he did anyway. Do you think his PSA would have been 1 to 99 if he hadn’t? It’s been 4 years since his diagnosis, yeah he’s beat death by 3 years. So…. it’s hard for me to get behind something that for so long bad mouthed any treatments other than their poisoning and frying of their patients. Keep your hope strong and keep your mind open. You have rights and you can tell those doctors you want a second opinion and you want to explore alternative treatments. If they fight you on this, maybe they’re in it for the wrong reason… $$$ a new boat maybe? If they don’t want you to try food therapy or massage or acupuncture then find another doctor. Find one that wants you to supplement your fight with everything that’s out there to make you well, by everything I mean EVERYTHING and they help you to find that everything. And fight for the money that’s raised at these events to go toward alternative treatments too. If you have hope that by you raising funds and spending your night walking in a circle is going to find a cure then follow up with your hope that they will allow the patient to make them selves well and whole again. Fight for our insurance companies to support alternative treatments! Don’t get me started on the insurance companies!!!!! I’m sorry for taking over your comment space, but you can see, I’m pretty passionate about this.
I”m so sorry you’ve had such hard experiences Judith! It’s been a hard road to walk for your family. (hugs) I feel pretty strongly about the Relay for Life, but for my own experiences. The research to finally eliminate this evil disease is important (VERY important, yes) but to me it’s so very important not to forget the PERSON going through this terrible illness. It’s the other programs that actually cradle the cancer patient that I feel is so important. The help for addressing the physical changes to one’s appearance by pairing with beauty professionals to help walk them through skin care, hair loss options, etc. Cancer patients that are dealing with chemo have been through a lot, their self image shouldn’t be shattered as well! And the help with transportation to treatments, and also the cancer survivors that help reach out to new cancer patients so they can speak with someone who’s been in their shoes before. Yes, I’ve been the beneficiary of some of these services, yes it meant the world to me, and yes – I want to make sure these services are available to others. We each have reasons to feel the way we do and that’s ok. For me, I’ll continue to participate in the Relay for Life every year. ~TxH~