A student asked me in the fall if I would be interested in helping with Relay for Life. My initial gut reaction was no. I had no desire to think about cancer however, I told her I’d think about it. When she asked, it was shortly after breast cancer awareness month and I’ll just be honest here, I was sick and tired of hearing and thinking about cancer. In fact, each time an infomercial regarding breast cancer was shown; the channel was very quickly changed. At first, it made me sad because I miss my sister so very much. Later, it just made me cry. After a while it just made me mad. Didn’t “those people” realize how difficult it was for me to listen to those stupid commercials? Not only that, when at work, every time I left my building I was bombarded by students asking me to purchase a pink breast cancer ribbon or a t-shirt telling others to get their “mammies grammed” from tables covered with bras that had clever little breast cancer awareness sayings written on them. Enough already! Soon, I started making bad (by bad I mean dumb) jokes about the commercials. That’s when I realized maybe it was time for an attitude adjustment. “Those people” had no idea what I was feeling, they were just trying to get the message across to people that there are things one can do to help catch breast cancer early and hopefully do something about it. Of course, that in turn caused me to get mad all over again because Carol chose not to do anything when she was diagnosed. I had to work through those feelings all over again. Ultimately, she made a choice and I in turn have to respect the choice she made. I’m not sure it is the choice I would have made, but it wasn’t up to me to decide for her. All of this to say, after thinking about it more, I decided to form a team for Relay for Life this year, more on this later.
When I first decided to do the Relay, I went through the motions; getting it organized, talking to people, etc. without really thinking of the purpose of the event. A couple of weeks into it the reality of the event and its purpose hit me right in the face. I received a packet of information about many of the things that happen during a Relay for Life event. I already knew this information, but had chosen to ignore it which I suppose was a defensive measure on my part. I started reading about the different laps and recognitions that would happen throughout the evening. Walking for someone you have lost to cancer; walking for someone you know who has survived cancer; walking for someone who was a caregiver, etc. I began making a list of those people I knew who have died, survived or have been a caregiver. It was fairly lengthy. As I was reading through the list of all these different people, I became very sad thinking about those people who have died and as per usual, my emotions began leaking from my eyes yet again. We always hear time heals all wounds. I do not believe it. Those wounds are always there, lurking in the corners of our minds waiting for a chance to sneak out again. Yes, it becomes easier with time simply because we do not spend every waking moment thinking of the ones that are gone, but it never completely goes away. I suppose if we spent all our time thinking of those that are gone, we ourselves would cease to really live.
Here I am a team leader at a Relay for Life event. In my wildest imagination I never would have expected me to be doing this. It is definitely out of my comfort zone – not the planning and fundraising, but the participating in an event about cancer. You know, that disease everyone hates which has touched pretty much everyone I know in some way? That’s the one. I’m doing it for all those who like me, have cared for someone who was dying from cancer. I am doing it for those people I loved that are gone: Babo (my grandfather), my daddy, my sister, and several close friends. I’m doing it for my husband’s mother whom I never met. I’m doing it for all those people in my life who have survived. It isn’t easy for me. Sometimes it makes me cry, but I’m doing it and I’m hoping and praying that in my lifetime, there will be a cure. So, if you are looking for me from 6:00PM April 12 until 6:00AM April 13, you will find me at Relay for Life walking for a cure.