This past Friday I spent the night at Relay for Life at Timber Creek High School in honor and support of those who have battled cancer. As most of you are aware, Jason’s mother passed away in 1992 from Leukemia. Though I, nor my children, never knew his mother – her struggles with cancer certainly have had a direct impact on our family. I found myself at Relay for Life Friday honoring her and others who have fought cancer.
It shouldn’t be surprising that I found myself at Relay during some very busy times in my own life. In addition to teaching fulltime at Valencia, attending classes fulltime at SCAD, and caring for the kids I find myself also applying for my masters, attending meetings at work, as well as preparing for and attending our student show which was the same night as Relay. After the student show I rushed over to Relay for Life in hopes that I’d make it in time for the Luminera lighting and moment of silence. I was thankful that I made it just in time to make Luminera bags. I made one in honor of Jason’s mother but unfortunately I was so rushed for time that the most I could do was write her name on the bag. Hope has already expressed an interest in participating in Relay for Life next year so I imagine next year you may see her create a more creative bag for her grandmother.
I also found myself throughout the night thinking of Talia Castellano, a 9 year old who is fighting a rare form of cancer. Some of you may know that I’ve volunteered over the last six months to follow her story as she continues to battle cancer. I also made sure there was a luminera bag present at relay in support of Talia.
In 2003 I also attended Relay for Life, but because Hope was so young we only stayed part of the night. One thing I remembered most from my past relay was the Luminera lighting and moment of silence. I found myself not only reflecting but admiring the spirit around me as the lights were turned out and the luminera remained lit.
Seeing Hope’s name created by luminera lit in the bleachers reminded me of the reassurance we should all have for those who have struggled with cancer.
AND THEN I RELAYED…
I admit I was a little too tied up with many obligations to be involved in fundraising for Relay for Life this year but agreed to attend to support my friend Sasha who has been very involved with Relay for Life for years. I agreed to walk/run to help her reach her goal of walking 28 miles during relay! Despite all the training in the military and staying fairly active, I admit I haven’t stayed on a regular or rigorous work out schedule so I agreed to this challenge realizing I would push myself as far as I could possibly go but wasn’t quite sure how I’d finish 28 miles. I found myself about 11 or 12 miles in feeling very achy. My feet were blistered and even bleeding. At one point I remember walking even in flip flops for a mile or two. I began to walk much slower and began to realize I’d likely not walk as many miles as I had originally thought. As I found myself starting to give into the physical pain, Sasha and I chatted as we walked about relay. She reminded me of the purpose of Relay for Life which left me more motivated to continue walking. I think we’re all aware what a great fundraising event Relay for Life is, however, many don’t truly think of the connection it has with those battling cancer. I couldn’t help but admire my friend’s determination to meet her goal of walking so many miles during relay, even more so after she made it clear that Relay was not just a fundraising event to support cancer research but it was a means of remembering and honoring those fighting cancer. For many cancer patients the night becomes the toughest part of the fight, where they are often up and in pain much of the night – many times fighting the pain alone. So for one night many relay to not only honor those that fight cancer, but to take one night out of the year to relate to the pain endured by cancer patients. So as I found myself feeling like giving in before coming close to reaching half a marathon (13 miles) I was reassured by this thought, and became more determined and kept walking. I walked around the track many more times after this converstation but finally gave in between 4 and 5 am. I walked just over 15 miles by the time the night was over.
In the end my feet ended up badly blistered and I admit that it’s been 2 days and I’m still feeling the effects of relaying – but I am confident I will recover from these minor injuries. The physical discomfort from experience relaying does not compare to the challenges cancer brings.
So who knows, maybe next year I’ll be able to double how far I relay. 🙂