26 February 2009

"why do you relay"

Obviously, Relay for Life is coming up soon -- both here and in Perry.

Yes, I'm doing both.

When you register on R4L's website it asks you why you relay. Granted, there is a template there that most people leave the same, I recognized that mine was different. During last year's Relay I changed it.
Memories of WHY I relay and how avid I am about participating came rushing back.

Relay in Perry holds many memories for me, mostly starting freshman year of high school. My best friend during my first year in high school had been diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. She went through intense chemotherapy and radiation treatment to rid her body of the cancer. I remember her losing her hair and gaining a lot of weight from the treatments. I remember vividly when she told me, right before leaving for college the next August, that she would have to have hip surgery because the treatments she had received deteriorated her hip bones. I remember the tears cried -- of joy for her remission and sadness for the impending surgery. Vividly, also, I remember my first Relay -- spent with her and her family and Doc P. I still have the banana necklace that lights up [Banana was my nickname] and remember stealing her brother's skates to skate around in the wee hours of the morning...and Doc going to get us Chick-fil-a biscuits for breakfast.
I also remember without haze her running up to me right before the Survivor Walk, pulling me, saying, "I want you to walk with me." Typically parents/family/spouses will walk with the survivor or no one at all. And she chose me. We clung to each other the whole lap and cried.

I believe this year's R4L...both of them...will hold great significance as well. I will still celebrate her life and will probably squeeze her extra tight in a bear hug.
But I will also be celebrating Cody Lukas, a sophomore at PHS, and his fight to live after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He underwent extensive surgeries at St. Jude's to remove his brain tumor, met Kenny G, and can still play the saxophone better than anyone that I know.
I will also be celebrating the life of Robin Dorman, my mentor and friend. She is the mother of dear Riley Cole who is a blessing in and of himself. She has coached me on life and held me when my body shuttered with sobs. She was diagnosed a little before Jessica with an extremely rare form of Hodgkins Disease. She battled tirelessly, faithfully, until she finally went into remission. While she still sports scars from the treatments [certain types of chemo make you itch really bad..until you just scar yourself] and painful memories of being unable to have children partially due to the cancer, she is still strong. She is one of the strongest women I know.
I will be celebrating the life of a woman who is no longer present. .. a woman who succombed to the woes of spreading breast cancer [into her bones] last May. Mrs. Alice taught me more about perserverance, writing, selflessness, and peace than anyone. She taught me, through the 18 years that I was blessed to know her, that stopping to actually smell the flowers-no cliche intended-can be one of the most calming aspects of life. She taught me that a little goes a long way -- vanilla in cookies, words, kindness. She taught me to read...to appreciate. She taught me to quilt, though I was not able to retain that quilt after her death. I do, however, have the felt doll that we made together. In crooked, golden letters [she always made me do most of the work] it says "reach for the stars" and I am constantly reminded of that when in my dorm room. That is my source of greatest motivation at college.
I will celebrate the life of Hannah's mother. Dear mom2 :) and the other women in my life who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have pushed through to survive....never once letting these 'mountains' seem unsurpassable.
I will celebrate also for the fight that Luke Campbell is making. His mother owns the tea house in Perry and our families, oddly enough [haha], are quite intertwined. He is a senior at Westfield High School and has recently had a relapse with Leukemia. He has recently had a bone marrow transplant and is, prayerfully, on his way to recovery.

These people who have touched my life...they are why I relay.

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