Friday, June 12, 2009

Flashback Friday: Relay for Life

Since our local Relay for Life event is coming up, I’m going to use today’s Flashback Friday to republish a post I wrote about it last year. I’ve been involved in the Relay for many years, raising money for cancer research in different ways. I used to walk in the relay, I’ve sang at the opening ceremonies, made luminaries and donated canvases to raffle. Each little way of helping has been a privilege and as this year’s Relay is fast approaching, and my health is anything but fast improving, I’m not going to be doing as much as I’d like to promote the cause.

So the least I can do is promote it a little bit on here… you’ll have the opportunity to give if you’d like, but most importantly I’m posting this to bring awareness to the event, and encourage you to get involved in your local Relay for Life as well.

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Reason To Relay
[originally posted 6.18.2008]

When I was in grade school we had traveled during the winter to an away basketball game one of my siblings was playing in. While at the game, a huge blizzard had hit and continued to rear it's ugly head as a caravan of cars headed back to our hometown. You literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face it was such a complete and total white out.

As the caravan crept along my dad had to walk to the front of the line and sit on the roof of the lead car in order to tell them if they were still within the lines on the road. He sat, perched in the cold, until we came to a farm house he recognized as belonging to a family that went to our school. They weren't home, but the caravan of cars all parked at their acreage and we filed into the house (I have no idea how they got in) to wait out the storm.

The winds were so strong that Dean Dodds, who at my young age seemed like the largest man I'd ever known, carried me from the van to the inside of the house to keep me from getting blown backward. We made it in the house and it was nothing short of a modern day Little House on the Prairie. The men went to light the fire in the fireplace while the women went to the kitchen to see what could be prepared for food. The mood turned from ominous to fun once the large group of people got into the house and we played cards and listened to the grown-ups retell the happenings of the previous hours.

It was getting late and we were obviously all settling in to stay for the night, so mom took me to a back bedroom where we shared a bed with Dean's wife Doris. I had known Dean and Doris for as long as I could remember, but when I went in Doris had already taken off her wig and was propped up against the pillows in bed with just her handkerchief on her head.

It was the first time I saw cancer.

I didn't know why she didn't have hair; I didn't even know she was sick. I do know I probably stared longer than I should have, but Doris seemed unaffected and just smiled at me. I don't remember being scared... but we never talked about it at the time or after that. I think I later asked my mom why she had a wig and mom told me she was sick, but the word cancer was never uttered.

Back then it was still an unknown. It was still rare in my world. And now it seems to be as common a word to children as talking about a cold. I am sure there isn’t a person reading this who hasn't somehow been affected by cancer. My Uncle Bob died last year of cancer, my friend Mary Burns' husband John lost his cancer battle previous to that. And it is because of my friend Kelly's family that I am involved with Relay for Life.

relay photo
The photos above are of Marv and Kaitlyn, Kelly's dad and daughter who have both died of cancer within the past five years. Kelly, her husband Nick and daughter Megan created a team called The Smiling Kate's, which I’ve been honored to be a part of. Their involvement in Relay started when Kate was still with us and they all worked together to raise money to fight this disease, as well as enjoy the camaraderie and fun the event creates. Back when I was more able-bodied I had the opportunity to sing at the opening of Relay a few times and it remains one of the most meaningful experiences I've ever had.

I am very aware of my shortcomings, so I can tell you unequivocally that I am the world's worst fundraiser. A natural salesperson I am not. My pitch would go something like, "If you don't mind, I mean... if you maybe have the ability to help, if it's not too much trouble..." You get my drift. Our local Relay is coming up, so here's what I'm going to do. If you have been looking for a way to help someone, this is an easy way for you to go about it. Click on this link and it will take you to my Relay page where you can donate. No pressure; just an opportunity.

And if you aren’t able to give financially, I encourage you to look at ways to volunteer your time for your own local event. It’s an amazing opportunity to come together for those whose lives have been touched by cancer, so other lives don't have to be.


  1. Wow, what a story! Not to get off track, but did the family who owned the house mind that everybody crashed there while they weren't home?

    My neighbor down the street is a cancer survivor. Her youngest son is the same age as my oldest son, so my boys were exposed to cancer at an early age. They saw her without her wig and seemed fine with it. My dad, my sister and my uncle are all survivors. My brother, my grandmother and another uncle lost their battle. My friend's husband has been fighting for the last 3 years. The two of them have such faith and have been using this ugly disease to minister to others. Thank you for doing what you can to help in the fight. What a beautiful picture of Kaitlyn!

    Recent blog post: Foto Friday

  2. Robin~All Things Heart and HomeJune 12, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    So beautifully written Sweetie. I think perhaps you're a better fund raiser than you give yourself credit for...
    We lost my little brother to cancer when he was only 30, he fought for ten years before it finally took him from us. It's a horrible thing and I want to say thank you for doing this...Hugs~

    Recent blog post: Cooking With The Husband~Ribs!

  3. Thanks for the opportunity to give :) I hope everyone who can, will give a little something. Even 5 dollars can add up in a hurry if given by enough people. My family has lost so many to cancer, and have several members with ongoing battles. I nudged you just a little closer to your goal!

    Are you still in contact with Kelly? Will you please tell her I loved hearing about both her dad and her daughter Kate... that smile on Kate's face is a beautiful thing!!

    Hugs to you sweetness!

    Recent blog post: Back Yard Bokeh

  4. What a great cause! I think I've mentioned to you in comments before that our family currently prays for FIVE little girls who are battling various forms of childhood cancer. FIVE of them! All ages 7 and under. It's way to common these days, and way too sad that my children know so much about cancer. Let's hope that Relay for Life and other cancer fundraising events get us to a cure faster!!!

  5. I love relay! Even just putting up your page for donations is doing a lot to help end this fight with cancer. I personally worked on an oncology floor, my mom had cancer, my FIL has cancer, and my friend's baby has cancer. It is every where...the fight is on and sooner or later research will win!

  6. Robynn's RavingsJune 14, 2009 at 1:38 AM

    I LOVED that story. I felt like I was right there with you. And it DID remind me of Little House on the Prairie (which I love).

    Went over to your site and, like Vicky, nudged you a little closer. I'm so sorry for your dear friend losing her dad and her little girl. What an unbelievable heartache. Thanks for letting us be a part.