The Rely for Life event is over. The campus goal was exceeded by around $4,000. TEAM 209 was $298 short of its goal, but it was still a huge success! This is the first time we have done relay and we started late. We have already discussed plans to do it again next year! Woohoo! The evening was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing my students outside the classroom and I’m pretty sure they felt the same way about seeing me. I played some volleyball, danced to a few songs (which better not show up on Facebook or YouTube!), and walked a lot, probably not as much as I should have, but a lot. My husband and I stayed up all night long. Our strategy was to get up and walk when felt the urge to leave and go home to our nice warm beds! (Plus a few cups of coffee!)We left with smiles on our extremely tired faces. It was good, mostly.
When I signed up I knew it would be difficult however, I didn’t really think about how difficult. I held it together pretty well for the majority of the evening with just a few tears. The opening ceremony was nice and I only shed a few tears. I totally lost it when they asked for the caregivers to make a bridge for survivors to walk under. I couldn’t do it. I sat in the food room with my husband and sobbed. I just couldn’t go and be a part of it. I am not one hundred percent sure why I couldn’t do it. I think because it made me so sad – missing my sister, my father and all the other people in my life who have died of cancer. Maybe I just didn’t want my students and fellow teammates to see me so vulnerable? Maybe pride? Maybe it was a combination of both? All I know is I couldn’t do it and I just wanted to cry. My husband, being the wonderful person he is, sat with me, hugged me, and patted me on the back. I needed that.
Being a caregiver to a person with cancer was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life. Not only was it tiring physically, it was tiring emotionally as well, even when there were others around helping. You spend a lot of time doing things to help with pain, to help that person feel a little better, fix meals, to do whatever is needed or asked of you, and a lot of time smiling, talking, laughing, and more talking; talking about death and fear and life and love, but mostly death. You spend a quite a bit of time watching TV and movies sitting in silence. This is when you think quite a bit about what life will be like without that person and it causes you to feel extremely sad, but you try to hide that as much as possible so the person who is dying won’t feel bad for leaving you behind. You don’t spend a lot of time taking care of yourself, just a quick shower and throw on some clothes. It is not about you, it is about the other person. I’m not sure how you make it through it, but you do. Afterwards, when they are gone, you are tired, depressed and sad. There is also a sense of relief which causes you to feel guilty because since you feel relief, you must not have truly loved that person. This isn’t really true, but it doesn’t matter, you still feel this way. It is a vicious circle of emotions. All of those emotions came back to me the night of relay. All those things I thought were forgotten were simply lurking in the back of my mind waiting to jump out and strangle me once again. The tears helped.
I also lost it during the luminaire lap. As we were walking, I looked at each bag and read the names on them. Most of them were in memory of someone or several some ones, only a few were in honor of a survivor. It caused my eyes to begin slowly leaking. What caused me to lose it completely was when one of my students was stopped by a bag sobbing. She was all alone. She had shared her story with me earlier in the evening. Her aunt, one she was very close to, had just passed away in November. I stopped and hugged her while the rest of my group kept on going. We stood there for quite some time just hugging and crying, and then she said she needed to hug her sister who was a few feet away. I walked with her to where her sister was and hugged them both and walked on . . . as I continued walking there were people stopped along the way crying. I have said this before, but I’m a group crier so of course . . . you know the rest. I was having trouble seeing through my tears so I had to just stop for a bit. Once I composed myself, I kept on going. I stopped by the bag with my sister’s name on it (also, my father, grandfather, husband’s mother, and two good friends). I stood there crying like a baby for about five minutes before I finally was able to regroup. The lights slowly came on and I just stood there and gazed out across the gym at all the students who were there for whatever reasons and a sense of pride and hope came over me. We hear so much negative about young people, but here was a group of several hundred students making a difference in the world with a hope for a cure for cancer. It made me happy to see them there with hope in their hearts; it turned my tears to a smile.
Cancer sucks. A cure would be awesome. I will continue to walk for a cure.
By the way, the theme for our relay was Dr. Seuss. We chose a book which most people have probably never heard of . . . “I Am Not Going To Get Up Today.” We thought we’d say “we won’t get up until there is a cure.” We never made that sign because we got sidetracked with our “Pinkman” campaign. Here are a couple of pictures.