HOPE. The shirts for the 2015 Relay for Life have this message front and center. Those who attend a Relay for Life fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society this year will be reminded that there is HOPE-hope for a cure, hope for survival, hope that less people have to hear the word ‘cancer.’
Cancer is a very personal thing for my family and me, like it is for so many of you. We were first introduced to the Relay for Life in Carroll County, Iowa in 1998, after my younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, the Relay has become a part of my summer ritual. The Relay for Life took on an even deeper meaning after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, at the age of 16. Although the county I now Relay in is different, the cause is very much the same. For me, it is a celebration. It is on the track that I am reminded over and over again about my many blessings.
For others, the Relay for Life is a time of healing. A time of remembering loved ones who lost their lives due to cancer. The Relay for Life is here to provide HOPE that someday there will be more celebrating and fewer tears. The money raised at these events is used for cancer research and programming to support those affected by cancer.
This year, I attended the Relay for Life in Buena Vista County in late June at Tornado Field in Storm Lake, Iowa. The event kicked-off with a meal at 5 PM and lasted until after dark. A survivors lap honored those who have fought or were currently fighting a battle against cancer. Luminaries in honor or memory of those touched by cancer lined the track to be lit at dusk. Entertainment and games were also available throughout the evening.
I wasn’t able to stay long at this year’s Relay for Life, but I made sure I walked a few laps. I walked for my family members, friends, and strangers all touched by cancer. I walked for me. This year, I celebrated being cancer free for 14 ½ years!
If you haven’t been to a Relay for Life, please go, and check it out at least once. You don’t have to be part of a team to participate, but if you are up to the challenge, get a group of friends together to make a difference in the lives of others. You can find additional information and a list of Relay for Life events near you here. Get out there, raise money if you can, and walk to create HOPE that someday we will live in a world without cancer.