Sunday, June 30, 2013

Relay For Life

Almost two years ago my Uncle was in hospice, dying from liver cancer.  Sitting in a waiting room, feeling saddened and completely helpless, my sisters and I decided to form a team for the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.  Cancer had already struck so many of our family and friends.  My sister and father-in-law were both cancer survivors, but cancer had already claimed the lives of Milly and her sister, and my sister's father-in-law and her sister-in-law.  We needed to come up with a team name and decided to incorporate the names of some of the different cancers that had hit so close to home.  Thus the birth of our Relay team;  Team Liver and Onions.  In case you're still in question, the onions represent ovaries.

This was last year's team.  Sissy #2, Silly, Peanut Butter, Jessica, Me (taking the picture was Silly's husband and Sissy #1 was manning our food booth).  Sissy #2 wears a purple shirt, signifying that she is a cancer survivor.

Last year we served popcorn and non-alcoholic margaritas from our food stand.  We had a handful of people who walked for our team throughout the night.  This year, we decided to have an Americana themed booth.  We served homemade apple crisp with ice-cream, hot and iced coffee.  Once our booth was set-up and decorated, we realized that it was also Flag Day.  I love when those "coincidences" happen!

Monkey brought the kids out to enjoy the early evening activities.

Pumpkin won this thing

Pumpkin has named her clown Crunchy.  Sorry if this image gives you nightmares, but just remember;  I have to go to bed with this thing in my house each night!

Sweet Potato wrote out a schedule for those who were helping us walk.  Sorry for the poor quality of these pictures.  It was night and I only had my phone.

Shift #1:  Silly, Gummi Bear and Cucumber

Shift #2:  Sissy #2 and Honey Bunches

Shift #3:  Sissy #1 and Sweet Potato

Shift #4:  Me and Cucumber

Cucumber loved carrying the torch
Shift #5:  Sissy #1 passing the torch to my nephew
We continued walking until 5:30 AM.

Those of us who still remained at 5:30 AM

Days leading up to the Relay were very full in preparation.  Driving home from Sissy #1's house at 11:30 PM the night before the event (we had just baked 6 pans of apple crisp), my feet and my back ached, I was tired and hungry.  Earlier in the day I was asking myself the question, "why are we doing this?"  But in my van that night, I had a moment of clarity as I glimpsed the lives of Milly and my Uncle and my sister.  I remember the suffering they endured.  I remember how thin and frail each of them became.  I remember days when they were too sick to do anything, but to simply lay.  I was reminded of the fact that cancer does not sleep.  Cancer does not take a break.  Cancer does not give up.  And yet here I was, taking for granted my health and sulking because of the little bit of tiredness I was experiencing.

Two of my favorite parts of the Relay For Life is when the survivors walk their lap and when the luminaries are lit so as to light the path we are walking.  Both create such great emotion.

As I walked around the track, I took time to look at each of the luminaries.  There were hundreds of them.  Each one tells a story.  Each one represents the fragility of life.  Each one demonstrates the heroics of the one it was lit.  These are true heroes.  It is for these whom we walk.