The American Cancer Society hosts a 24-hour event called the RELAY FOR LIFE in neighborhoods across the USA. I went to my first RELAY years ago, after my very good friend was taken out of this world by cancer. I enjoyed the day celebrating the cancer survivors and remembering my friend. It wasn’t until sunset that I realized truly how many people are affected by cancer.
Luminary bags are sold as a fundraiser at the event. You can purchase them and decorate them in honor or in memory of someone with cancer. The Relay Committee then places them around the track, so that all participants may view them as they walk. I decorated a few bags my first year and have every year since. My list of bags needed is sadly, very long. I lost my dear friend, Deirdre and my great-grandfather to cancer. My grandfather battled with colon cancer, and I even have a beautiful friend that is currently fighting colon cancer. This same beautiful friend, my ex-mother-in-law, an Aunt of mine and countless other friends fought breast cancer. I grew up in Southern California and have many friends over 40 now fighting skin cancer. I even have a non-smoking church friend who recently passed away fighting off lung cancer. Needless to say, there are always a lot of luminary bags surrounding the track and when the sun sets, everything changes.
A candle is placed in every bag and is lit at sunset. The bags illuminate the track as the names of people who are currently fighting cancer and have died fighting cancer are read. I live in a very small town. We have only have 35,000 residents, which is not much compared to other surrounding cities. My throat started to close up as the name reading kept going on and on and on. The names on the pages were so many. As the reading of all of those names concluded, I was changed forever.
I have put my poor body through some things I care not to mention and I know my diabetes could come into play when I consider my odds of getting the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. I tremble as I type the words, as I am terrified of the thought. But I know that I can not let my fear of my possible future stop me from living in the moment of today. The names on the pages inspire me every year to do better, try harder and to continue to go for it. They also remind me to relax and smell the roses. The names shout out to me to dance and sing, and travel. To try new foods and experiences whenever possible. The names tell me to dream and to believe in the future; for it is bright and available to me now. I must go for it all, with the names on those pages in my head and in my heart.
I encourage you to participate in your local RELAY FOR LIFE or come to ours! Everyone is invited. xo