Why I am involved in Relay for Life

I like to think that I have been active in the community as it relates to supporting the numerous causes that are out there. I have cleaned parks, signed petitions, bought my fair share of Girl Scout Cookies, donated to the food pantry, raised money to help prevent child abuse and the list goes on and on.

It seems that everyone is supporting something these days and everyone wants your help to find the cure, end the violence, send a message or wear a bracelet. It seems at times that there are so many fundraising campaigns, donation drives, recall efforts and other events that it can make your head spin and wallet or purse much, much lighter.

Of course we can’t possibly be expected to donate or support every cause. But it always good to be active because at some point, something that others support or raise money for will affect you in some way, shape or form.

Just over a month ago I heard that my cousin, Kathie Rohrer, had formed a team for Relay for Life. I have donated to Relay events in the past, so I was going to of course support her in her event.

Then I started thinking about it. Cancer has touched my life in a number of ways, and it started at a very early age. My mother, Judy, lost her battle with cervical cancer at the age of 39. I was just four years old at the time. Since that time, great strides have been made in relation to battling this form of cancer and many women have been able to become survivors of this disease and not just statistics. That is because of events like the Relay for Life.

My father, Ray, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in January 2011, just two months after he was diagnosed. There were few warning signs and by the time the cancer was discovered, he was already in stage three of the disease and there was nothing that could be done for him. What we were able to do is keep him home and comfortable until the grip of the disease finally took him from us. This is why events like Relay for Life are so important. Cancer is sneaky. Cancer is unpredictable. Cancer does not care who you are, how rich or poor you are, or how old you are. Cancer sucks!

I have also lost two brothers, a grandfather, two uncles and many other family members and friends to this awful disease.

I decided to do more. I decided to walk in this year’s Relay for Life in Three Rivers. Why do I walk? Because I want to win the war on cancer once and for all. I am tired of seeing my loved ones lose their life to this disease. It is unfair to see children fall prey to this disease when their life is just beginning. In fact, a friend of mine was dealt a huge blow upon learning that her 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone disease. He is now undergoing aggressive chemotherapy. I think of my own daughters and hope they never have to go through either the disease or losing a loved one too it. I walk to help others live.

The good news is that there are more and more success stories of those who have survived. We want more of those stories, don’t we? That is why Relay for Life is so important to me.

I am so invested in this cause that is almost consumes me. I am constantly checking my personal Relay website to see if I have received a donation and I am sending out emails and messages on Facebook, to my friends asking for their help. I hope when all is said and done, everyone realizes that my somewhat overt obsession with this whole event is rooted in my own personal experience with the disease and they forgive me.

I have a greater appreciation for people who are supporting a cause they believe in. Everyone should find something they are passionate about and work toward creating awareness for it. Whether it is this particular event or one that means something to you because it has touched you, go for it. Nothing changes unless people are involved and invested.

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