Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Life" ended early - but it was great

Relay For Life, I mean. Just a few hours into the event, it was called off because of approaching severe weather. Considering that our campsite on the field was directly under power lines, we were grateful for the precaution!

Relay For Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. You form a team and take turns going around a track all night (because cancer never sleeps). It is also an uplifting event. Cancer survivors get a purple t-shirt to distinguish ourselves from everyone else (who gets a white shirt). There was a special dinner before the event for cancer survivors and their caregiver. We listened to a speaker who is both an M.D. and a cancer survivor, and she delivered a great message about hope. Speaking of her lymphoma, diagnosed more than 13 years ago, she said that her cancer was not "incurable" -- it was a cancer for which researchers are looking for a cure. Her hope lies in the fact that her latest remission was her longest (nearly 7 years) before a recurrence had to be treated, and so if her next remission is at least that long, there will be even more advancements in treatments (and perhaps even a cure). And she must have read my blog or somehow overheard my brother talking to me about prognosis -- or maybe great minds just think alike -- because she mentioned that prognosis information is based on other peoples' histories, and they had no history of lymphoma in someone exactly like her.

After the speaker finished, we had a pinning ceremony. Survivors were asked to turn to their caregiver and pin them with a special caregiver pin. It was a tender moment of thanksgiving as I pinned my husband and we tearfully gave each other a hug and kiss. Then all the survivors were asked to stand up, form a circle, and hold hands (of course, my first thought was my compromised immune system as well as the likelihood of others with the same problem, and the wisdom of holding hands...this moment brought to you by Purell, perhaps??) and then we each turned to the person on our right and pinned them with a special survivor pin.

Soon afterward the relay began with an opening ceremony that included a survivor lap around the track. My son held my hand and walked/ran with me. Then caregivers were invited to join in on the second lap, so my husband (holding our daughter) joined us. Then everyone joined in for the third lap, and afterward each team was to furnish at least one participant ad infinitum. A short while later there was a luminaria ceremony, where luminarias were lit in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of those who died of cancer. There was a lighted luminaria with my name on it, but unfortunately the other names we submitted (a grandfather and a great-aunt who died of cancer, and a good friend who is surviving cancer) did not appear. (The volunteers were horrified and apologetic.)

There was plenty of food and entertainment to keep us going (and spending money) until the weather cut things short. We didn't get to walk all night long and wear ourselves out (which is good, since I caught something nasty, and I need to rest because my ability to fight it is compromised), but my little team was able to raise around $900 for the American Cancer Society. I really appreciate the outpouring of support that I have received from family and friends, who were generous with available time, money, and participation.


WendyLou said...

Just wanted to let you know....

At the Relay for Life that my sister chaired, I wrote your name on one of the luminaries here. On the other side of the bag, my husband wrote the name of John "the Duke" Wayne.

I'm still on bed rest, so the running gag for our team when no one was walking was that it was my turn... I was laying pretty flat on my side on a beach lounger, wrapped in blankets. (Sad thing was... People kept thinking I was a cancer patient, because I really don't show.) It was nice to be out around people.

Oh... A lady there showed me a professionally done book by the Heritage something. It is a free way for cancer survivors to write their story for their families. I thought that you would like to do one for your kids, and gave her your email. I hope you don't mind.

Catherine said...

My dear sister,
I loved walking this relay here in Yucca Valley California,
I too am LDS, a Convert, but with a twist, yes dear I'm a Democrat and always will be-- *LOL* My love and prayers are with your fight, I'll be walking with you in another coast next year,
God Bless,
Sister Cathy Inscore, El Paseo Ward