Why I Relay
As most of you know, I am co-chairing this year’s American Cancer Society Foothills Relay For Life in April with Mary O’Keefe. Being co-chair means that I have the opportunity to hear a lot of personal stories about why people relay – who they are doing it for whether remembering someone who lost their battle, is still fighting or conquered their cancer. Well, I want to share with you why I relay.
Back in the ’70s, I was a candy striper at Kaiser Hospital. For those of you who don’t know what candy stripers are, they are teenage volunteers whose responsibilities were to provide support for the nursing staff. When I was growing up there was a kid that I went to school with in Sun Valley, one of the kids who I have my earliest memories of. Chucky Wolfe was in the same grade as me and he was a bit of a cut-up; I really enjoyed him. When we got to be about junior high age all of a sudden Chucky’s attendance at school became rather sporadic and eventually he stopped coming altogether.
It was at this time that I was candy striping at Kaiser. I was on the pediatric floor one day and, as I rounded the corner, coming at me, supported on one side by his petite girlfriend and the other side by his mom, was Chucky. Chucky was fighting leukemia and when I saw him he wasn’t doing very well. Chucky looked up and when he saw me his eyes got really big and he said, “Hey, you came.”
I was taken aback but, of course, I nodded yes and went about my way. I didn’t know really what to do.
Chucky was one of my early introductions to cancer, a disease that I thought only older people got. It attacked my friend and, in the end, it killed him.
This year at Relay For Life our theme is Celebrating the Survivors and Caring for the Caregivers because I remember the looks on the faces of Chucky’s mom and girlfriend.
Little did I know that would be a look that I too would have on my face when in 1996 my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer that eventually metastasized to her brain and killed her. I could also share with you the story of my father-in-law, a big man who got cancer. He lost his battle in 1989 having never met his two youngest grandchildren. Unfortunately I know my story is not unusual and those are the reasons why I relay.
Please calendar April 11 and April 12 to be a part of the 24-hour Relay for Life at Clark Magnet High School. I encourage you to do it for Chucky, for my mom Joanne, for my father-in-law John; but you probably have somebody already that you can relay for.
I’ll be looking for you on the field. www.relayforlife.org.