When you hear commercials for drugs they give you all kinds of statistics about what disease or illness they help fight, they then go on to spend the other 85% of their air time telling you about how their drug can kill you. There are a lot of statistics about cancer, but no drugs that can cure it.
Every year starting in 2001 my family has been participating in the Relay for Life in some form or another. The early years of that was through our employer. After my mom passed away in 2007 from brain cancer we decided to form our own fundraising team. This was for her memory, and to honor my mother-in-law who is a 20+ year survivor of breast cancer. Over the years we’ve had other people join our team and leave our team. We aren’t too picky about who is on our team, just as long as they’re trying to achieve the same goal we are. Trying to find a cure for cancer.
The one statistic I want to bring up every year is that 2 out of every 3 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes. I sit at my desk and look at my other 3 coworkers and know that most, if not all of us will end up with this horrible disease at some point in our lives. I have a hard time finding people to talk to who haven’t been affected by cancer in some way. Either they were diagnosed themselves, or they know a family member or friend who has. This disease knows no age limits. It doesn’t discriminate in any way against age, gender, race, color, religious beliefs, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. It is rare that I go a week without hearing of someone I know personally who is diagnosed, or being examined for, this horrible disease.
Until recently this hadn’t hit home too much other than my mother. My mother-in-law’s fight came before I knew her. Last fall as my wife and I were waiting for our youngest son’s basketball game to start one Saturday morning we ran in to a longtime friend who had supported our team in the past. We asked him what was new, and he seemed a little distraught and asked his wife to take their daughter into the hall. Earlier that week he went to ER to be treated for what he thought was gall stones. About 36 hours later and a bunch of testing he was home, with a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis. This is a man who is only three years older than me. I still have a hard time grasping what he’s going through. Not only with treatments, but also knowing that he has a grim prognosis and there is a distinct possibility that he will lose his fight before his children graduate from high school.
Examples like this have helped me realize this is truly why I participate in the Relay for Life. I still love to remember my mother, and honor my mother-in-law, but if I can be a part of something that potentially could help my friend live to see his kids graduate, walk his daughter down the aisle, or hold his grandchildren, then sign me up. If I can help raise money for an organization that wants to see the same things I do in regards to this horrible disease, then sign me up.
This year has turned out to be a little more challenging when preparing for the Relay. Our oldest son graduated from high school this past spring and is getting ready to head off to Western Michigan University in late August. That’s caused some schedule changes in our personal lives that we’ve never had before. So our participation in the year’s event is going to be much less significant that in the past. That doesn’t change any of the need for what we do. I have yet to see a legitimate news story that is about the cure for cancer. There are many stories out there claiming that there are certain foods or supplements you can take to cure cancer. Those claims are pretty baseless, because while they may help, if they were truly effective then the FDA would be regulating them.
This year we have made the decision to be part of the event in a lessor role. We plan to spend a majority of the first day walking and visiting with all of the people we have come to know through our local event. We will be attending to luminary ceremony and lighting up a few for those close to us. This doesn’t change the need for your donations, and there’s still time for you to donate, but this year’s event is coming up quickly, 8/4-5, so don’t delay. If you would like to make an online donation (preferred method) you can go to www.relayforlife.org/barrymi and still make a donation to the event. If you prefer not to make an online donation you can mail or drop off a donation at my house, please hit me up for directions. If you are writing a check please make it out to the American Cancer Society and we will make sure it gets turned in. If you can’t make a donation by check right now there are other ways to donate. One of the ways I’ve been raising money is through bottle refunds. My coworkers have been brining me their returnable bottles and every one I turn in goes towards our fund-raising efforts. If you’ve got a bunch lying around the house let me know and we can make arrangements to get them.
So while our time wasn’t able to be put towards the Relay for Life as much as we would have liked this year, it doesn’t change the need for funding. I hope you can find time in your day to donate, it may save your own life later.