Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cathy Conquers Cancer!

Today, I went by the local Canadian Cancer Society office to register the members of my team, "Cathy Conquers Cancer", for the Relay For Life 2013.  This event will take place on Friday, June 7 from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 8.   I'm looking forward to participating in it again this year.

Last year, I entered my team for the first time.  It was the first time I ever participated in the Relay For Life.  This is a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.  The funds raised at the local chapters stay within the community.  The money is used to run the office, run support programs for those who are stricken with this terrible disease, run support programs for the caregivers and families and a portion of the money raised also goes to research in the local area.  Last year, the Relay was held on Friday, June 1.  I decided to participate and enter a team in celebration of finishing my chemotherapy.  I had friends and family join me as we intended to stay all night long and walk the track.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't co-operate and the organizers had to cancel the event at 10 p.m. because the rain was too heavy and the wind was too strong.  I was disappointed in that I did not get to experience the overnight event.  In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that I wasn't there all night.  Although my mind was very willing, I don't know that it would have been the best thing for my body.  Also, unbeknownst to me, my husband had planned to force me to go home for some sleep during the night.  Anyway, I get to do the whole event this year and I am healthy and strong to be able to succeed at it.

The reason the event is held overnight is it symbolizes the experience of cancer.  As the event starts, it is still daylight and everyone is warm and cheerful.  As the night wears on, darkness descends (diagnosis of cancer) and everyone struggles to stay awake and dig deep within for the energy to continue through the night (similar to going through treatments).  As dawn approaches and the horizon begins to lighten with the approaching arrival of daylight, people begin to gain more energy as they literally see the light at the end of the tunnel and a long night (similar to finishing the arduous journey of treatments).  Finally at 7 a.m. with the sun fully up over the horizon and the brightness of day, it symbolizes the cancer being beaten into remission and being cured.  Like I said, last year I did not get to experience the whole event.  I have been told that it is very emotional.  I know that last year I did participate in the Survivor's Lap and I felt great joy.  There is also a memorial lap which I intend to participate in and remember my father, my mother-in-law, my friend who passed away from cancer in September as well as the other people I know who have passed away this year.  There is also the luminary walk.  This is a walk/run around the track which is lined with lit memorials (bags with tea lights in them).  These bags are decorated and have a person's name on it.  The person may be someone who has beaten this horrible disease or the name may be someone who did not manage to beat the disease.  The Luminary Walk takes place just as darkness falls.  Apparently it is a very powerful and emotional event.

As I registered my team members this afternoon, I noticed the banner from last year that all the survivors had signed.  I stopped and looked at it and found my name.  I must say that I got choked up as I remember going into the Surivor's Reception last year.  I had no idea what to do or where to go.  I didn't know anybody.  I remember feeling very shy and self-conscious.  Somebody came along and directed me to sign the Survivor's Banner with my name and the year that I underwent treatment.  It was very obvious at that time that I was a recent survivor.  I still did not have any hair!!  This afternoon as I looked at the banner, I noticed there were names with more than one year of treatment.  It was very sobering to see how many people survived not just one bout of this disease but then fought and survived a second bout.  How strong they must be within!!!!!  The ladies, working at the Canadian Cancer Society office today, took me to see two other banners.  In 2009 and 2010, they had all the participants and survivors sign the banners.  One of the office workers told me that a lady comes into the office every once in a while to look at one of those banners.  Her daughter had signed it as a survivor (she was only 14 years old) but is no longer here.  It brings the mother comfort to see her daughter's handwritten signature.

So I will be participating in the Relay For Life 2013.  I'm including a link here so that people can make online donations in my name or in support of my team "Cathy Conquers Cancer".  Please, please give generously.  Because other people were generous in the past, it allowed researchers to make advancements which have allowed me to be in remission.  I will never forget my oncologist telling me that if I had been diagnosed 15-20 years ago, I would have been given a prognosis of a life span of 3 to 6 months.  I would have been dead now.  So I ask again, please consider giving generously.  The link is:

Thank you.

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