On October 10Th at 6:30 it begins. At the First Baptist Church in Stanley, NC it begins. The beginning of the tenth annual event. You are welcome to attend.
Yes I am talking about something near and dear to my heart, the East Gaston Relay for Life. Some of you already know this-many do not. The reasons that I am so dedicated to Relay for Life.
In January of 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In February I underwent a lumpectomy and began radiation treatments. There are few things that can blindside you any more than having a doctor sit down beside you and in a calm, caring voice tell you that you have cancer. Even though I thought I had already accepted that the tests were going to come back positive for cancer it still sent me reeling. The rest of that day was spent actually accepting the diagnoses and deciding how I was going to handle it. An unashamed Christian I spent a lot of time talking to God as I tried to finish out the day at work. By the time I got home I was calmer. I knew it was going to be okay.
I had a wonderful doctor, she explained everything, every step of the way. Possessing a wonderfully different personality she made it easy to prepare for everything that was to come. And then to travel the road to recovery afterwards. Still, there were moments that I wished I knew more about things other than procedures, types of cancer and recovery times. Having never traveled this road I had no clue where to go find answers. There were times that I felt very alone.
Near the end of my radiation treatments I was invited to join a Relay for Life team. There wasn't many meetings left before the event was held so I didn't see what all was involved in the making of the Relay night happen. At my first Relay it was an amazing collection of sights, sounds and happenings. Campsites lined the track, tents and lawnchairs surrounded the canopies, the air was filled with the sounds of voices and laughter. The different textures of the grass and the paved track, the feel of the air warm in the afternoon sun cooling quickly as the sun went down. The aromas of various foods cooking, drifting on the breeze, the kaleidescope of colors drawing one's attention from one site to the next. It was so amazing, so thrilling and at times confusing. The crowds thinned the later the hour got. At 2AM I found myself walking around the track alone. The cool night air bringing a shiver. The music level had been lowered in an attempt not to disturb the neighors. I walked with my hands in my pockets absorbing everything around me, hearing the people I passed or who passed me. I walked alone and felt it. Just as I had felt alone undergoing the whole cancer experience.
Since that first time I have remained a dedicated part of the East Gaston Relay for Life. I do help as I can with the fundraising, but I have come to realize that it is so much more than that. I have learned a great deal in the time since my cancer. There is a wealth of information on the American Cancer Society's web site: www.cancer.org. There are people on the other end of the phone number: 1.800.ACS.2345 ready and willing to answer any questions and provide any assistance or tell where the caller can get the assistance they need. I know that there are programs set up to help those who are fighting cancer. Programs such as Look Good-Feel Good, rider programs and more. They want the person fighting and the fighter's caregiver to know they are not alone and there is always someone there for them.
The fundraising events are not just fundraising- they are times when communities can come together with one goal in common- fight cancer, help the fighter. I've watched the people attending some of these events and watched how the spent time visiting, laughing and sharing. How they support the fight and are also determined to win this. Too many have been touched by cancer in some form or other. Too many have watched friends, relatives, co-workers fight and win or fight and the cancer win. The pain of this has them working in what ever capacity they are able to put an end to cancer.
On October 6TH the East Gaston Relay for Life will have a booth at Stanley's Country Festival, stop by and visit with us. Learn more about what we have to offer the community, how we can be a bigger part and not just a fundraiser.
The very first East Gaston Relay for Life event took place in 2003 raising over $43,000. This Relay beginning will be the 10th annual event. A lot of changes have taken place in ten years. Teams have come and gone. People have won..and lost..their battles, lost friends and family members. A lot has been lost to cancer. The event has moved from the East Gaston High School football field to the Methodist Church's walking track known as Common Ground at 5481 Hickory Grove Road just outside of Stanley. We have made progress, but we have not met the goal of getting rid of Cancer.
On October 10TH the East Gaston Relay for Life 2013 Kick off event will take place at the First Baptist Church in Stanley at 409 Old Mount Holly Rd. It begins at 6:30PM. It promises to be an interesting time, an educational time, a good time-complete with edibles. We've saved a place for you, won't you join us? You don't have to be a cancer survivor or caregiver to be a part of Relay. all you have to be is someone with a dedicated heart and a solid determination to help eradicate cancer in our lifetime and while we are working on that to make things better for those in the midst of the battle.