|Graphic by Digital Product©|
Yesterday was inspirational, hopeful, and overwhelming at times. My young cousin organized a Relay For Life team, named Walk to Remember, for the annual American Cancer Society. We walked for her Grandma Della who was my aunt. Both my uncles died from cancer too. I’m the only one who has survived and next month is my sixth year of being cancer free.
Our “Walk to Remember” logo, created by my son, is a beautiful reminder of my aunt. Her favorite color was purple. We underwent chemo around the same time, after her cancer returned. Once she told me,”It’s okay that I go, I’ve lived a long time, but you’re too young, you can’t go yet, you have to fight.”
I remembered her words when I looked up at the HOPE banner swaying against the light gray sky. I stared for a few seconds reflecting on it. Then I took my place for the Survivors Lap and somehow ended up with the large RFL “Survivors/Sobrevivientes” banner along with four others. That’s what happens when you get to the party early, I guess.
|Camarillo, CA RFL|
So I’m in the front and about 200 other survivors are behind the five of us. “I Won’t Let Go,” by Rascal Flats played as we took our lap around the high school track. People on the sidelines cheered, snapped pictures, held up photos of their lost loved ones. The woman next to me started sniffling, then crying, the banner slowly slipping from her hand as she wiped away tears. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I keep crying,” she said. “It’s okay, we can cry, go ahead,” I replied.
We kept walking and I heard more sniffling, from either side of me, my eyes misted too. I was glad I wore sunglasses and a baseball cap. Decorated “luminarias” dotted the inside perimeter of the track. We passed a couple of hundred, each with “In Memory Of…” “Beloved…” or “I Miss You…” surrounding a photo of their loved one…men, women, children.
When we rounded the track I could see the HOPE balloons floating in an arch. Throughout the day and night our team walked, round and round, collecting ‘lap beads.’ My sister did five miles, I did four, the adults walked, the teens and the little kids walked. Various groups walked, schools, cub scouts, little league teams, women and men with strollers, people in wheelchairs and with canes. Around eleven at night, a large group of the teenagers, dressed in Homecoming dresses and tuxes came onto the track, a few girls without their heels and some limping. I felt overwhelmed again. Sometimes we think young people don’t care and then we see otherwise.
Six years next month. I’m doing well, my kids are healthy, I’m blessed in so many ways. When my mom and I left that evening I remembered that I have a whole lot of time ahead to walk and live in hope.