Monday, June 22, 2015

Why I Relay for Life



Why I Relay for Life.  I saw this on the back of the shirt of one of the organizations that participated last Friday at the Paramus High School’s Relay for Life cancer walk.  Underneath that saying were pictures of the faces of the people they walk for.  My Mom died of cancer – that was almost 19 years ago.  In that time, I have moved to a different house, raised a family, saw my brothers get married and develop their own lives.  I walk in her memory.  For my family, the more current reason for walking, these past 3 years, is my sister-in-law, who has been fighting the fight for years.  Cancer touches us all.  Cancer does not care about race, creed, age or income.  Cancer is an equal opportunity disease that can bring down friend or foe.  This year, a high school sophomore gave the survivor speech.  A HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE!  He found out that he had cancer shortly after last year’s walk, and said that at one point he felt it was easier to just give up.  Today, he is a survivor and once again an active teen.  My sister-in-law, Magda, is pictured with our friend, Rich, also a cancer survivor. They are our team’s survivors (we kid them that they are our “mascots”) and we are extremely happy and proud to have them with us, to share the event and provide inspiration to others.

I have another friend, Bruce, who had been fighting the fight for almost a year.  He was diagnosed last summer with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  This past Tuesday night, after a year fighting, he entered hospice care.  I went, along with our friend, Ed, to visit with him Wednesday night.  An hour after we got home, I received the call telling me that his battle with cancer was over.  This was a good man, a husband, a father, helpful to people and always happy.  No matter who we are, we all know someone that has had this disease or is currently in the trenches fighting.

Each year, the Relay for Life event starts with speeches and a roll call of the survivors present.  This year, they called up over 100 survivors, an increase from the 80-something they had last year.  “See, I told them that I would deliver 100 survivors this year” was the statement made.  Good news – we have many more survivors this year.  Bad news – that many more people had to fight the fight this year.  However, I guess at the end of the day, that is why we Relay.  We Relay to raise money for research so that the number of survivors can increase each year, until we reach the day when we no longer have to fear the word cancer and what it stands for.