In August 2010, we lost my mother, Carrie Carney, to pancreatic cancer. Prior to that, she had been a survivor of breast cancer.
This year, for the first time, the church of which I’m a member, First United Methodist in Shelbyville, fielded a team in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, and I’m proud to say I was a part of it. I had a blast! If you’ve never been to a Relay, you need to go. You don’t have to be a team member to attend – in fact, since many of the teams are selling some sort of concession, they’d be more than pleased to see you and sell you something. First UMC, this year, sold steak sandwiches, as well as squares on the cow patty bingo board.
The casual visitors, of course, drift away as the night wears on, but team members continue walking the track all through the night. This is symbolic of the way cancer patients go through the dark night of treatment and pain before, hopefully, emerging into a new day of recovery. At least one member of each team must be on the track at all times.
The event is overwhelmingly fun, enjoyable, upbeat and hopeful. But it also includes moments of honor and remembrance. It opens with a “survivors’ lap,” featuring those who have survived cancer. And there is also a ceremonial remembrance of those who, like my mother, ultimately lost the fight.
I stayed for the entire event, which ran from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m.:
Now, it looks like I’ll be involved in next year’s Relay in a different way. Today, our county Relay For Life chairman, Samantha Chamblee, and the ACS staff person whose district includes Bedford County, Harriett Stewart, stopped by to see me at the newspaper. By the time they left, I’d agreed to become a member of the local event committee, serving as publicity chairman. I attended my first committee meeting tonight – and it was a whopper, lasting more than three hours.
“I hope we didn’t overwhelm you,” said Samantha.
Well, a little. But I didn’t mind.
ACS does a ton of great work. Some of that involves research – trying to find cures for various types of cancer. Some of it involves assisting people who have the disease now. For the newspaper, I toured the Hope Lodge several weeks ago.
This is a great program. I hope that I honor my mother’s memory by participating in it.