I had a dilemma. I didn’t have any ideas for my monthly blog. Sure, there’s a lot going on in my life at the moment, but it isn’t anything which is all that interesting to anyone other than myself and my family. I wanted it to be about something meaningful. Then, around two o’clock in the morning on Sunday, I said to myself, ‘Wait a minute! This is meaningful.’
You may think that was a bizarre time of day to think of something to blog about, but, as it happened, I was outside walking around a track. ‘Hmmm, really?’ you say. The answer is yes, and I wasn’t alone. I was with hundreds of other people. And we all had a reason to be there. We were participating in the Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser for cancer research. This was my eighth year of participation along with the rest of my team of ten women. And in our city there were about 125 teams installed on the site to walk for twelve hours, from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock in the morning.
This year we were blessed with good weather, something we haven’t had since our very first year, so we were particularly happy. But despite the constant uncertainty about weather, and the lack of sleep, and the aches and pains, the event is always memorable.
The organizers started the evening off with a survivor’s walk, the cancer survivors all wearing their distinctive yellow t-shirts. This year the walk was led by a man who is one hundred years old! After making the first tour of the track, each survivor had to hand a baton to a team captain to signify the beginning of the relay. Our captain, my sister-in-law Carolyn, had tears in her eyes when she accepted the baton on behalf of our team.
As the evening progressed, we had visitors coming and going to offer encouragement and to witness some of the ceremonies. The crowd thins out after the lighting of the luminaries which are purchased in honor of or in memory of a cancer victim. These special bags with candles in them would light the track for us in the ensuing hours. We continued our vigil through the night. It isn’t always somber, although there can be moments. We spend a lot of time chatting, catching up on news, and reminiscing about previous years.
When I walk on my own, I tend to spend a lot of time reflecting, as do most people. This year my thoughts included the upcoming visit of my oldest daughter whom I haven’t seen since the beginning of January (can’t wait!), my youngest daughter’s high school prom (a big life event), and even the unexpected death of my sister-in-law’s beloved golden retriever. Those were the thoughts that are not all that interesting to anyone other than myself or my family.
But I also thought about the people I knew who we lost because of cancer. There are so many people who suffered greatly, fought bravely, and still lost the battle. They have to be remembered.
I thought of those who are now suffering and fighting. These people have a very real chance of winning the battle because of the research that has been done and is still to come. They have to be supported and encouraged.
Those were the thoughts that are interesting for everyone. Because, cancer isn’t choosy. We are all at risk. Be us rich or poor, young or old, we can all be a victim. And today, more than ever, there is hope.
So, whether or not this blog was meaningful for you, I at least wrote about something which was meaningful for me.
***A.J. McCarthy is the author of the upcoming novel, Betrayal, published by Second Wind Publishing.