Saturday, June 16, 2012

Relay accomplished

Last evening, Dave and I completed our first Survivor's Lap at the Relay for Life.  It has been a worthwhile experience, complete with quirky and amusing details, a few tears, and some excellent reflections.

We attended the Survivor's Dinner with my friend Carmen (who gave me the idea in the first place.)  Carmen told me that when she thought about all the relay people walking all night to raise funds for research and patient services, she figured the least she could do was to show up.  Indeed! In addition to being a great time to catch up with her, meet other cancer survivors in the community, and enjoy a good meal, we heard my our oncologist speak about what led him into the field of oncology, and share the experience he had with his father's death from cancer.  It helped me to get to know him better.

Following the dinner, we all donned our purple "Survivor" tee shirts, and little side-saches that said "Survivor!" (this is the closest I will ever come to being a beauty pageant contestant!) and queued up behind a couple of elderly bagpipers (and no, I am not kidding.)  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but the photo above is from last year's Relay, and will give you some idea.  About 50-60 or so of us, with about three people younger than Dave and me, lined up and began walking behind the bagpipers- all of us in various states of health from pretty healthy, to those using walkers, canes, or needing support from others.  The bagpipers begam playing as we walked the two blocks or so from the dinner to Ashley Pond.  They played almost in time with each other, and most of us could keep up pretty well with them.  The police stopped traffic for us.  People moved out of our way.  To be honest, I just felt weird at this point. While I am not a shy, retiring wall flower, this kind of attention is something I am decidedly uncomfortable with! Once we got to Ashley pond, the luminarias that are part of the remembrance of Relay surrounded the pond, and we walked around the pond with the luminarias on the water side and in the grass around us.  On the sidewalk there were some little puddles from watering the grass there, and the dear Survivor with a walker in front of us kept taking out the luminarias as she tried to miss the puddles.  We must have presented a rag-tag view to those who gathered and honored us with their applause and smiles. 

As I walked around the pond, and looked at those luminarias, most with names, dates of birth and death, messages of missing, I became profoundly grateful:  Grateful that Dave has lived to see his granddaughters.  Grateful that with three cancers between us, we are survivors. Grateful that with two cancers behind me, I have still not walked the tough roads of chemotherapy or metastatic disease. Grateful for God's constant care and provision.

Near the end of our trek around the pond, we saw our dear friends, the Baers.  They were smiling and applauding us, and it made me cry.  They, and so many others of you, Gentle Readers, have been such a support to us through this life.  Thank you! Between us, Dave and I raised almost $350.  But more than that, our hearts were lifted, and we were able to give back a little, somehow.  Thanks to each of you who helped us accomplish our first Relay!

1 comment:

Jenifer Hanson said...

Thanks for sharing the experience with us! I cried reading it (ok, maybe I'm a little hormonal) but I am just so profoundly grateful! Love you both.