Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sharing Stories - Why I Relay

I lost my source for this - I think it's Relay Canada's. 
Last Wednesday was the final full meeting before Relay For Life. I've been a team captain many times over, served on a Relay For Life committee for a few years, participated in three different Relays, and hell I even chaired a Relay for a few years. The basics of Relay don't change, even when you change locations. I skip a lot of monthly meetings in lieu of reading the minutes and stalking Relay on Facebook. 

The very last thing I felt like doing was leaving my house to attend a volunteer meeting that would start 15 minutes late and where things I've heard and said myself hundreds of times would be repeated. But I went. I wanted the map of the event and I wanted a Wawa hoagie on the way back. As forecasted, the meeting started 20 minutes late. I was annoyed, hungry, wishing I was at home...then three ladies stepped up to talk about why they Relay. Sharing why you Relay is a big part of Relay For Life.
Via
I sat and listened to a woman who had to stop and collect herself while talking about losing her Dad to cancer. She just wants everyone to be able to spend Father's Day with their dads. Next, a woman who was so full of fire after beating cancer that she could barely get the words out. 

I am a person who tears up at things like this. I always have been and I always will be. I teared up for those people and their stories, but also for my people and their stories. 

With her mention of Father's Day I teared up thinking about Laura's dad not being here on Father's Day for what will always be too many years in a row when we seem too young for that. I thought about how many family members are no longer with MFD and his cousins who are missing parents far too young. 

I thought about my Grandmom, an 80 year old woman certain she was going to beat pancreatic cancer, but also of how vulnerable, tired, and afraid she seemed when she thought you weren't paying attention. An image of my hand in hers flashed in my brain. I thought about looking down while I was holding her hand every day for the week she was unresponsive in hospice. How familiar a sight it was to me, that hand, how I had held it as a child, a teenager, a young adult. How she liked to hold hands and would rub yours with her thumb. How weird it felt to hold it now. How similar our hands were. How I wish she died circle of life style without the terrible pain that came along with the cancer but how that cancer is what made us much closer over her last year than we would've been otherwise. 
I thought about all the people who have lost loved ones to cancer over the years I've been doing this. Far too many people for me to name here, that's for sure. Not to mention those who got it, beat it, are still battling it - my father in law, Mrs. S, my Gwen, Lisa...again, far too many to name. 

I snapped back to the meeting in time to listen to a report from the Hope Lodge and how one of the patients staying there while he got treatment said that the volunteers and the Relayers give HIM hope. Just like that, I was back in the present and I was smiling, clapping, and thinking of the survivors in my life. So many people who have kicked cancer's ass. Their stories are incredible. 

I was reminded that physical attendance gives me something that meeting minutes do not - the ability to identify and empathize with other people. 

You volunteer and raise money against a disease that's painful, sad, heartbreaking, infuriating, hellish, and a million other bad things, but so much good comes from your experiences too. If you think about it, it's weird that anything related to cancer can be rewarding, but it is. It sucks to live a bad outcome. Losing someone you love and watching them suffer in the process hurts. But watching a survivor emerge victorious from this life or death battle is really fucking something too. It makes your heart soar, even if you don't know the person. 

Relays are 24 hours because cancer never sleeps. Last year was my first 24 hour Relay, I had only done 12s before. I loved being on the track at 2 a.m., walking slowly, reading the names on the luminaria bags and thinking how each bag is someone's story. Yes, it's a long day. It's usually hot. It's a lot of walking.You have to set up and break down. Your feet hurt. You likely smell. Some people are annoying. You don't sleep. But those things are nothing compared to battling cancer every day. Really. Nothing. And nothing compared to what you take away from the experience.
I think this is 4 a.m.
So that's why I Relay. For the people who've gone head to head with cancer and won. For the people doing intense battle now. For the people I've lost and the people you've lost, and for our ability to share their stories. To have a place and a time to do that surrounded by other people who have been there. To spend a day with framily raising money for a great cause. I find it cathartic. I hope if there's a Relay near you and you've never experienced it, that you go walk a lap, buy a cupcake from a team, tear up at a luminary ceremony, smile at a survivor. Be a part of the community for a minute, or an hour, or however long you'd like to stay. 
Thanks so much again to everyone who donated this year. I'm at $1,325 raised so far and still pushing on. If you'd like to donate, please click here, and if you're local, stop by Bensalem High School on Saturday, June 21, from 11 a.m. all through until Sunday at 11 a.m., walk a lap with me and see what Relay is all about.


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Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.

 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday













Linking up with Liz for Fitness Blondie's Blog Hop:
The Hump Day Blog Hop

29 comments:

  1. I totally cried reading this post. Remembering those loved and lost, and to those who fought and won. Thank you for walking and sharing your experience!

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  2. I love that you do this! I did relay for 4 years in school - it is seriously such a powerful day

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  3. i love this, steph. remembering those we've lost is heart breaking because we miss them so much but celebrating with those who've beat the odds is incredible.

    and FUCK CANCER.

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  4. my late great granny was diagnosed with breast cancer at 80 and beat it. she lived until 92 and even walked a little in relay one year!

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  5. Wow. Just wow.

    I do a couple of 5ks each year - I'm not currently signed up for one, but I think I'll go find a walk or run that's for a good cause and sign up right now. Thank you for posting this!

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  6. God bless! I've loved supporting the walks; maybe it's time to join one!

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  7. Thank you for sharing why you relay. I just completed my second Relay as a team captain and committee member just a couple of weeks ago. I've never heard of the 24 hour relay, but sounds interesting. Good luck with your goal and relay!

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  8. Thank you for sharing why you walk! It is good to remember!

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  9. I did quite a few Relays when I was in high school, and I was always the team member that walked overnight. It was one of my favorite things.

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  10. I wish I were local, I'd come walk a lap to two with you.

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  11. I truly think relay is one of the best programs out there. I have only dne 12 hours but I need to do 24. thank you for doing this. I must admit- this whole post had me tearing up.

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  12. I remember Mom Mom the most! That woman just kept on going caring for you, us, and herself for as long as she could. I feel if people are diagnosed in the later stages of life, it is still sad, but a real wake up call to spend time with
    those who love you, like you kids did with Grandmom. It was a gift. Younger (like around 60 and under) I feel the worst about, especially kids. Their little souls are so innocent. I also strongly believe everything happens for a reason and it is how we react that counts. I know I need to work on many things! I am every second grateful for my good health and that of my loved ones and thank the universe constantly!! Lets all keep sending out positive energy and the lights to the universe to end this disease- especially send to the drug company CEOs who prosper from illness. Proud of you to infinity and beyond, Steph, and Lori, too who has worked tirelessly for Relay.
    God and Goddess speed to all of us. Love your Momma

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  13. Thanks for sharing. I am lucky that I haven't lost anyone to cancer. My best friend did get cancer at 26, but she beat it like a bad ass! Relay for Life is such a wonderful organization.

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  14. Steph, this post had me in tears, in public. You wrote from you heart and brilliantly. You're amazing!

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  15. I have always wanted to know more about the Relay for Life. Thanks for posting and you rock for doing all of that!!! I am going to check out one in my area, what a great commitment!

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  16. I started reading this right before my follow up with the boob surgeon, then I stopped reading because I knew it would make me cry. Love you, Steeph!

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  17. I used to do Relay For Life when I was in high school. I really should find some people around me now to do it with.

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  18. What a beautifully written post; thanks for sharing. My mom died of cancer when I was young...it touches a lot of lives.

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  19. I've done other walks for cancer but never Relay for Life... if we lived by each other I'd totally tag along and see what it's all about - this post was inspiring! :D

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  20. I did Relay a lot when I was in high school. I always felt so fulfilled during the events and right after. So many laughter and tears listening to all the stories and memories of peoples loved ones.

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  21. I've never done a Relay and always wanted to know more about it. Thanks so much for sharing why you Relay!

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  22. Cancer is such a horrible thing. I know they have Relays in my area, but I don't know about 24 hour ones. This sounds like such an amazing cause supporting cancer in general! Great post Steph.

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  23. I never did a Relay until as your Aunt wanting to help you I did. It changed the face of cancer for me. Every emotion is on display at Relay. 24 hours is tough even though I crawled in my tent for 4 hours sleep. Cancer never sleeps, it does not discriminate and it is a devastating diagnosis. That said Relay showed me people are resilient and will NEVER stop fighting. Take that Cancer. So proud of all you do for Relay.

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  24. Great post! I did Relay when I was 22, just as my friend Carrie got her 5 year remission news. I really should do it again. It was hard, but we had a lot of fun and loved connecting with other people, who were all so positive. I've had seven family members pass away from cancer since then and two others that beat it. Cancer sucks.

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  25. So proud of you! You WILL kick ass this weekend! And now I'm off to donate! <3

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  26. Relay For Life i amazing! You are probably just getting finished, so hope it went well!

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  27. Thanks so much for sharing this - I'm sad to say that I really didn't know a lot about Relay for Life before reading this. I run a lot of races and I've always had it in the back of my head to run and fundraise for charity, but I've just never done it. You've definitely inspired me!

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  28. Thanks for sharing your story. I have no run in Relay For Life yet, but my aunt was passionate about it. She survived two bouts of cancer, and the third one took her from us. I am making a note to get involved next year in memory of her. Thanks for all of your inspiration!

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