Last night was our local Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
If you've never seen - or participated - in a Relay for Life, you're kinda' missing out. Because besides being a great fundraiser for a great organization, it's also a heck of a lot of fun. Where else do you get to stay up all night, walking around a high school track, listening to great music, and meeting lots of great folk who all want to kick cancer's ass?!
My sister, Traci, was our Team Captain. She's the one who pulled this all together and got us organized to participate in this year's event...inspired by her own battle against Stage 3 rectal cancer.
Hubby and I had some previous engagements in the evening, so we didn't arrive at the Relay until 10:30 p.m. We were dumbstruck at the sheer number of participants...there were pup tents, tables, awnings, and sleeping bags spread all around the high school track. It kinda' looked like an NFL tailgate party but with a twist of camping. The stadium lights were on, illuminating the surroundings in a fluorescent glow, and a local radio DJ was blasting up-lifting music on the loudspeakers.
He was blasting it so loud that not once, but twice, we were visited by the local police department, asking him to turn it down a bit...it WAS a little late, after all, and I guess some neighbors were trying to sleep. Humpf.
Anyway - quite the party.
However, underneath it all was the serious message that everyone there was, in some way, connected to cancer. Whether a survivor themselves, or a friend or family member or co-worker of a survivor - or victim - we were there to raise money and support and awareness.
I donned my bright purple Survivor t-shirt and began jogging around the track.
The first mile that I jogged, was for myself. (Selfish, I know.)
Diagnosed in 2005 with Stage 2 melanoma, I now have four surgical battle scars adorning my body in various locations as tributes to my own fight against skin cancer. Although I was declared "cancer-free" in February 2012, I know that my battle will be an on-going, precarious one that may never end. As I walked, I thought about what I had gone through, and what is ahead. More surgeries? More agonizing topical treatments? What does the future hold in store for me?
The second mile was dedicated to my family...whether it's rectal cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer...we've had various family members at various times going through their own journeys in the fight against cancer. My sister...my dad...my mother-in-law...my thoughts were with them. Although all are currently cancer-free, what does the future hold for them? Or other members of my family? Are we home free?
The third mile was for my friends, co-workers, and strangers...the sorority sister, the high-school friend, the co-worker, the friend of my husband...and the strangers whom I don't know, but are currently in treatment. I looked around at the dozens of strangers walking beside me, and I couldn't help but say prayers for them and their "kin."
The last half-mile I dedicated to people that are yet to be diagnosed...the people of the future who may be diagnosed tomorrow...or next week...or next year.
For all of these people...I jogged until 2:00 a.m. in the morning. Round and round the track...fighting sleepiness...fighting the moths attracted to the bright lights...and fighting the early-morning chill.... About the time when my leg muscles were screaming in agony, and the sleep cobwebs were taking over my brain, Hubby and I called it a night and came home...knowing we've done what we can to help. At least for one night.
If you EVER get an opportunity to participate in a Relay for Life - just DO IT.
Even if you only walk one lap around the track...that one lap can make a difference in someone's fight against the Big C.