Relay for life!
Like the team shirts? We used my idea! All the other teams really liked our shirts.
When I was signing up, I was confused on whether to sign up as a survivor or a regular participant. Technically, I am still a cancer patient. We are monitoring my TSH levels until they are low enough that my doctor feels comfortable giving me the “remission stamp”. Five healthy years later is when I medically earn the survivor stars. In all honesty, I like to refer to myself now and forever as a Cancer Warrior. We can duck are heads and struggle through, or we can start running and break through the barrier. In the end, I decided not to sign up as a survivor.
The event kicked off with all the teams claiming their spots on the indoor track turf. Then the music started and all the survivors were asked to come forward and do a lap. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go up. there were a lot of people there that I knew from classes and what not that I hadn’t told about my cancer. Alex nudged me on and I joined arms with an older gentleman in the front.
I was uncomfortable taking this lap. It’s hard to have a cancer people can’t recognize. I feel like responses are either too sympathetic or void of any human connection. It’s not that I don’t want to share my story, I just don’t want people to see my accomplishment enhanced by cancer sympathy. “She got all Bs? Aanndd she has cancer?!” No. I did that independently of cancer. Did it make the grades that much more meaningful? Yes. I’m a senior in college who also happens to have cancer. Although it’s changed my world in many ways, it hasn’t consumed me.
I’m glad I went up though. My heart was in my chest and I felt tears forming. Here we marched, the survivors showing everyone that we will continue to march on and they were just standing their applauding. This was the recognition I have been waiting for- metaphorically I guess. I don’t need people to clap for me every time I face a challenge but it sure felt nice.
Life lesson: always acknowledge someone’s accomplishments, especially the ones you don’t think you could face yourself.
The caretakers joined us on our second lap. I really wanted Alex up there. I didn’t have a lot of physical injuries I needed tending to, but I sure as hell needed some emotional care. Alex was able to hold me up when I was too tired to do it myself. It’s important not only for me to recognize all that he’s done, but for others to acknowledge the silent hands that hold us cancer patients afloat long after the initial event.
After the second lap finished, the rest joined in and the festivities began.
The program did a really good job keeping us entertained. We had a hypnotist, a few comedians, a Capella groups, musicians, a 2am Zumba class, and a whole lot of RedBull. As the night progressed, groups started leaving or falling sleep by their little camp sights. I don’t understand how people can sleep to music that loud! By 1am the crowed cut in half and by 5am, Alex and I were the only ones left representing our team. The 6am closing ceremony consisted of Alex, myself, and 30 other stragglers from the 200 or so individuals at the start up.
It was really great that my team wore the shirts. It made a girl feel good to see visible support! It was also great to see people who decided to join the fun! I had a camp sunshine friend come up and some other friends from all around. I even made friends with a senior this year who was diagnosed with cancer last year! It’s hard not to bond with people at an event as emotional as this one.
I noticed that the events unfolding during Relay were pretty accurate to the way my years had been going. All the people in the beginning giving way to those few true supports walking until the very end. Almost eerie.
Thanks to all who donated!! I was able to raise $665! It was so wonderful you took time to donate to my cause!
Now for some well deserved rest.