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Relay for Life!
I realized a few months ago, that 2017 is my fifth year of fundraising & participating in Relay for Life of Yorktown. I've learned so much about the organization, the fight & myself over this time & I wanted to share some of those bits with you.
I originally began to Relay after my Aunt Carol was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer; it was the only way I could figure out to fight for her at the time. So that year, myself, some family & some friends all signed up & we began to fundraise! Each of us had somebody unique they were fighting for; friends, family or themselves. It was the first time I really realized that cancer really does touch everybody's life somehow, someway.
It's this weird feeling knowing that you're not alone in what you're going through but at the same time wishing that you didn't want anybody else feeling that way. Because you don't want anybody else going through a cancer journey of any kind.
That first year for me was a big one for learning. I knew we were raising money for Relay for Life which benefit ted the American Cancer Society, but I didn't know how important those fundraising dollars were. I didn't make the personal connection until 2 years later.
My Aunt didn't lose her hair from treatment the way that so many other cancer patients do even with chemo & radiation. It wasn't until her colon cancer spread to her brain & the type of treatment she went through, that she lost her hair. It was the first time I began to really realize how much your hair effects your confidence & how you feel. I don't think she wanted to necessarily have her physical appearance scream "I have cancer". It wasn't that she felt ashamed, or weak; rather hair provides that extra level of privacy.
When her hair really began to come out, I was asked how to find a wig. I had heard of the program "Look Good, Feel Better" run by the American Cancer Society, but I didn't know too much more. So one afternoon, I gave the ACS free 24/7 hotline a call to learn more. Not only did I speak to the nicest people ever, but I was able right then & there setup a free appointment for my aunt to go get her free wig. Not only was she going to get access to a free wig, but she was also going to get her makeup done too!
When the day arrived, myself, my mom & my cousin all went with my aunt to pick out her wig. I will always remember how I felt when I saw her that afternoon. It was the first time I saw her since her hair began to fall out & I just remember having to force myself to smile. I left the room & ran to the bathroom to cry just for a minute. It wasn't because she didn't look beautiful; because she always radiated beauty, it was just the first time in all the years that I felt like her outer appearance reflected her fight. It made me so angry all over again that she had to go through this. That we were spending the day picking out wigs, that she had already had countless rounds of chemo, numerous surgeries & then some. I was just mad that anybody had to go through this.
The thing that changed though, was at the end of the afternoon, I looked back at the past few hours & how much fun we had. We were having her try on all sorts of wigs- even the ones we knew she'd hate. We laughed, we enjoyed ourselves, we met other families in the session who were going through the same thing. It was one of the last afternoons I spent with my Aunt before she passed. Despite my anger that day over the situation as a whole, I am forever grateful that the Look Good, Feel Program exists. I am thankful I had that afternoon of laughs & memories with my family.
Funds that we raised at Relay, go back into that program & countless others that help give families peace of mind. It was that afternoon that I knew I had to keep Relaying. I had to keep helping fund the programs ACS runs so that other cancer patients can utilize them. I knew then that I was in this fight for the long haul.
After my aunts passing, I realized how my fellow Relayers were this beautiful support system & more importantly; my family. They are this group of humans who all have their own cancer stories & reasons as to why they have chosen to fight. They were there for me after my aunt passed to offer more than just kind words; they offered genuine compassion & understanding.
Five years ago, I would have never imagined that I would have taken on the great responsibility as the event lead volunteer for my Relay. But here I am! I spend countless hours year round with my Relay family not just planning our main event & fundraising, but also educating. Five years ago I really didn't know what my donations to Relay did, but now I do & it makes fundraising so much more valuable. I know that funds go not only toward cancer research or for free wigs, but cancer patients can access free rides to treatment, free lodging when travel is required to treatment, support groups, the 24/7 hotline & SO much more. What the American Cancer Society provides for cancer is immeasurable in the world of cancer.
While I'm celebrating my 5th year anniversary, I am hoping to really succeed with my fundraising goals. I want to continue the fight against cancer! If you are feeling generous today & want to help me reach my goals while providing hope in the world of cancer, please visit my individual fundraising link here:
I also encourage you to learn more about what the American Cancer Society does & joining your own Relay for Life event!
To read other posts about my families cancer journey, visit:
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!