The Foothills Relay for Life is this weekend, April 11-12 at Clark Magnet High School. Two local residents are sharing their stories with CV Weekly readers to explain why they Relay and why they hope you will join them on the track during these 24 hours.
My brother Howard was diagnosed with melanoma in the mid ’90s and he went through chemo and radiation for a year. He lost an ear and was badly scarred from the radiation. His melanoma was terminal and he had two-to-three years at best.
My brother was an avid fisherman and was from an early age. My whole family would go fishing together when on vacation and on weekend trips. One wish my brother had was to fish Alaska for salmon and halibut. My father formed a group of family members to go to Alaska with Howard and see him fulfill his lifelong dream of fishing Alaska.
My brother Denny, my brother-in-law Carl and his son, plus my dad and I all traveled to Alaska to fish with Howard.
As if God wished it on Howard, he caught the biggest halibut at over 100 lbs. and was letting salmon go after catching his limit each day. It was a trip of a lifetime for Howard.
We stayed at the Glacier Bay Lodge and had the time of our lives with all the seafood you could eat. We saw whales, eagles, seals, otters and all kinds of wildlife. We had to stay two extra days due to weather and were flown out in small planes as the large jet that brought us could not land with the low ceiling [low clouds]. One sad thing did occur that we did not understand until we returned home; my brother-in-law Carl was not felling well and was very uncomfortable during the trip, but at the time we kissed it off as he did not catch the biggest fish. My brother and brother-in-law both passed within two months of each other, Howard losing his battle with melanoma and Carl with liver cancer.
I learned you don’t always see what is in front of you until it’s too late. I decided to take my two sons to Alaska. We were able to enjoy our fishing trip without that bittersweet edge as was the case with my oldest brother and brother-in-law.
My name is Chuck and I have cancer. My mom and dad died of cancer, my wife’s grandmother died of cancer, and our son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 19 years old. We are happy to say he is now 31 and doing very well, thanks to a great medical team and advancements in treating cancer.
I’ve received medications, surgeries, radiation, immune system therapy, photon beam therapy, etc., since 2007, and I continue to wake up on the right side of the dirt each morning. When I was a kid, the ‘C’ word was synonymous with dying. But today, what was a death sentence is treatable and curable.
The fact that I’m able to write this may be attributed to ongoing cancer research and patient support programs. The American Cancer Society is one of the major funding sources for these important activities. When our son was diagnosed, we heard about the Foothills Relay For Life, our community’s local chapter of Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s primary fundraiser. We attended our first Foothills Relay for Life in 2003, and have continued to participate since.
Because Foothills Relay For Life is a totally volunteer event, over 90% of every dollar we raise goes to the American Cancer Society. Outside of advertising and promotional costs … it takes money to make money … a very large portion of each dollar the American Cancer Society receives from Relay For Life events across the country is spent on research grants and patient programs.
The 2015 Foothills Relay For Life will take place at Clark Magnet High School, 4747 New York Ave., La Crescenta, from Saturday, April 11 to Sunday, April 12. We’ll kick things off at 9 a.m. Saturday and wrap it up at 9 a.m. Sunday. It’s a 24-hour Relay; each team makes sure to have at least one person on the track, in relay fashion, from Saturday morning through Sunday morning. Cancer doesn’t take the night off, so Relay For Life doesn’t either.
We have live music, entertainment, a late night movie, special events for caregivers (cancer is as hard on family and friends as it is on patients) and plenty of food for the 24 hours of the event. For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/FoothillsRelayForLife. Again, the fact that I can write this today is largely due to the hard work of local volunteers like us, the continuing work of the American Cancer Society, and the research and patient programs it funds. All of us are no more than one or two degrees separated from someone who has, or has beat, cancer. Please join us in the fight.