Thursday, May 2, 2013

Relay for Life

This is a guest blog by Jean Lorrah

In the town where I live, Relay for Life is tomorrow night at the stadium of the local university.

Relay for Life is a nationwide fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society. Businesses, clubs, organizations--all put together relay teams who raise money for cancer research, and then once a year (usually in May or June) meet to honor local survivors and remember those who have lost the fight with cancer. Survivors are given medals, and then they make the first lap around the track. On the second lap their caregivers join them, and after that the track is left to the relay teams. Every team keeps someone on the track throughout the night, while there is music, food, games, and celebration of life all around the stadium.

In the luminaria ceremony, people dedicate luminaria to friends and family who have either survived or succumbed to cancer, and each name is read out while the luminaria are the only lights available. When the ceremony opens, some of those lights are arranged to spell out HOPE, but by the time it is over they have been rearranged to spell out CURE. It is a lovely, moving ceremony, for practically everyone there will have dedicated luminaria to friends and relatives who have been through cancer. Relay is a celebration of life--don't go expecting something sad. Rather, it is uplifting and filled with hope.

If you've never been to a Relay for Life, watch for one in or near your town--they are just starting now. Ours is one of the first, because we rely on students from the university to make up many of the teams. They will soon go home for the summer.

My team, though, is unique in our relay: we are the 8th Wonders, every one of us a breast cancer survivor. Our name comes from the fact that one out of every eight women will have breast cancer in her lifetime. I myself have had two different kinds of cancer--breast and endometrial--and survived both. My survival, and that of all cancer survivors, is due to medical science.

The American Cancer Society is 100 years old this year. During that century, cancer survival has gone from one in three to two in three--pretty good, but we want to make it three in three! If you would like to contribute to the research leading to that goal, you can attend a Relay for Life--perhaps even join a relay team. But if that's not possible for you, you can donate online.

If you would like to support me and my team of survivors, go here:

Thank you for reading this. If you have not yet been touched by cancer, you will be. Someone among your friends and family will have it. There's even a good chance you will have it. Then you will be grateful for the treatments we now have that save most cancer patients to live long, healthy lives. The research that brought about those treatments came from donations, many of them through Relay for Life.

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