Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to this weekend’s Chenango County Relay for Life (July 20-21 at the Chenango County Fairgrounds), we’ve asked several participants to share their personal stories with Evening Sun readers. This is Why I Relay ...
Why do I Relay? I Relay for any woman who had to hear those words you have cancer. You hear the words but your brain doesn’t understand them. The surgeon who did my biopsy after a routine mammogram showed a “lesion of uncertain behavior.” He gently said, “You have an insitu carcinoma; you need to have it removed.” I listened as he told me about the surgery and after care. We set a date for surgery; he was very professional and kind. As though on auto-pilot I walked out into the parking lot with my friend. “What did he say?” I asked her. (Reminder to anyone who has had a biopsy take some someone with you to your doctor’s appointment to decipher for you) “You have breast cancer and you are having surgery on Tuesday.” Then I did what any sane person would do, I burst into tears. Too distraught to return to work my friend and I went to Hoppie’s for ice cream.
I Relay for couples who have had to face this disease together. They fear that they might lose one they love. My husband said once that he felt bad because I had cancer and he couldn’t do more for me. I think my husband earned every one of his gray hairs while I was sick by worrying about me. He cheerfully took time off from his job to take me to many appointments.
I Relay for every child who had to hear those words spoken by their parent, “I have cancer.” I told my children to be brave and not afraid, that everything was going to be okay. Inside I was scared, not of being sick but that I would die before they grew up. We have gone through many milestones.
While I was having treatments in Binghamton, I helped my oldest daughter shop for her prom gown. Since my diagnosis, I have shopped for prom gowns two more times. I have seen my children all graduate from high school and college. I have witnessed the birth of my grandson.
Sadly though I was the child that heard my mom say she had cancer. She held onto my hand and said she wasn’t afraid, I was brave and she would be too. It is bittersweet that I lost my mother to cancer but I survived.
I Relay for everyone who has lost a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent and perhaps the hardest - a child or spouse. My maternal grandmother died of breast cancer as did her daughter. My mother died of lung cancer, her brother of liver cancer and now my 78 year old aunt is fighting breast cancer. I Relay to raise money for research and treatment.
I Relay for the caregivers, for friends who drive to appointments, for all those people who work so hard at the Relay for Life event. Each year when I walk in the survivors lap I am amazed by all the well wishers of people clapping and cheering.
I Relay to Celebrate, to Remember, to Fight Back.
I Relay for Ellen Woodcock and her memory, all that she gave me, and all that she taught me. I Relay with my family who everyday like me misses her and wishes she was still with us. In the short time that we knew of her illness, we as a family spent every minute of every day and night with her. We never left her alone, as she never left us alone.
I also Relay for my daughter Jennifer, who does not have cancer but her husband has a form of it and she is the rock that keeps them going. He is doing okay today but I know that she wonders and worries when all that will change. She is a rock star in my eyes because she has two amazing children - one that is severely Autistic and she does not give up hope. She goes to work every day and comes home and enjoys every minute with her children and husband. Sometimes her strength gets weak but she finds a second wind and goes on, for her children and husband. Jen’s determination to be strong for her family is amazing, and she knows that if she ever needs any of us… WE ARE THERE.
And I Relay for my niece and her husband. These two work very hard every day to enjoy their time together. Ray handles his illness in true fashion and does not let it get him down. His sense of humor has not changed nor has his will to go on. Julie strives every day to appreciate what she has and where she is. Although I know at times, she gets down and discouraged, she seldom lets it show. Her strength and love will carry Ray through this.
I also Relay for an amazing lady, who always had a smile for you and never let you down. Always made sure the store was open for those loaves of bread, that can of coffee or whatever else your needs were. Who in the middle of the night would open her store to the local Fire Department to make sure we had food, coffee and cold water if out all night to a fire. She was a special lady to me and my youngest daughter and we like the whole community often wonder why this happens to some of the greatest people in the world.
So I Relay for those past, present and not yet diagnosed with this illness in any form, survivors that may again fight the battle for their lives and for those caretakers of the ill, hoping to make it to the next day with them. For the children who will miss their mothers, fathers, grandparents and friends taken by this illness.
I only hope that I have the strength and will power to be as strong as the people in my life affected by this, my heroes, my family and friends.
Why do I Relay? Well it comes with a story, as most people would guess. All of us know of someone who has had cancer. Whether it is an acquaintance, close friend, loved one, or ourselves, we all know the adversities of cancer. The stories we share are what keep us fighting for a cure, together.
I myself began to Relay because I simply liked the fuzzy feeling you get when you help out. My first Relay, I fell in love with the entire event, so I continued the next year. I knew of a few people that had cancer, a great grandfather I never knew, a family friend, but it never sunk in how much of an impact cancer had on their lives and those of the people around them.
It never hit home until my dearest friend fell victim to the disease. However, we did not like to think of it as “falling a victim,” but instead facing a huge challenge. She was a fighter, and I will always look up to her for her perseverance throughout the entire experience. She never changed her amazing spirit. If anything, her spirit grew exponentially. She had no doubt in her mind that she would defeat cancer. Sure it was scary, but she never backed down.
Today, she has been cancer-free for just over 2 years. Why? Because she is a fighter! So, why do I Relay? I Relay to support her and everyone else I care about who has been diagnosed with cancer. I Relay to walk with my dear friend. I Relay to help others fight cancer just like she did. I Relay to spread hope to everyone, hope that there can be a cure. I Relay to enjoy the time I have with others, strangers and friends alike. I Relay to have fun at the events throughout the night. I Relay to challenge myself to walk just a bit further the next year. I Relay to let people know that they are loved and worth fighting for. I Relay in hopes to some day make a difference in the world. I Relay to see a world with more birthdays!