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Why Do You Relay?

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.

Photo: American Cancer Society

Jenna Leon, Opinion Editor

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back. Three simple terms that mean the world to the caregivers and survivors of cancer.

This the motto of Relay for Life, an event hosted by the American Cancer Society which includes over 4 million people in twenty-six different countries globally.

Woodstock, Connecticut was the first place I ever attended a Relay for Life event. That was the area both my parents had grown up in. Purple, purple, and more purple, the color representing Relay and cancer, is what I remember noticing first. Then, the luminaries lining the pathways through the fairground and the abundance of tents filling the lawn. Relay for Life was something I looked forward to from a young age. However, it had a different meaning to me then, compared to now.

Then, Laurie was in remission. Eleven years of battling cancer and she was still super mom, bringing her kids to school, dance, karate, you name it. She was diagnosed before I was born, so I never knew Laurie without cancer. To me she was just my parents’ best friend, my sister’s godmother, and my favorite “aunt.” I went to Relay for Life for the fun; the music, games, and face paint.

Now, Laurie would have been 48 on March 1st, and on March 19th it has been 7 years since she passed. I was a fifth grader at the time, and there was another class having a tea party and sharing short stories they had written with the rest of the students. As my friends shared adorable narratives about how cute their dogs were, I included a bit of the following in mine:

“‘The doctors are wrong. She is not going to die,’ I had blurted out. My mother looked at me with sad eyes…She basically just told me that because I love Laurie, I have to let her die and go to heaven. Who wants to do that?”

I wasn’t even a student in the class that did the project, but I felt a sense of responsibility to continue Laurie’s story, one that ended all too soon.

Skip ahead four years, and after helping my parents with small tasks like grocery shopping and sitting in on the town meetings for the Manchester Relay for Life event, I made it a mission of mine to create a Relay for Life team at the high school because they were lacking one of their own. Our team has been awarded ‘Top 3 Highest Money Raiser’ the past three years, and as I graduate this year, I leave behind a well-developed team of compassionate people who mark the first weekend of June on their calendars months in advance.

Photo: American Cancer Society
The 8-step process of Relay for Life

I Relay for those that have survived because without them I don’t know what my life would be like.

I Relay for those who spend every hour of every day as the support system that those still fighting constantly rely on.

I Relay for those fighting with all of their strength to beat cancer.

I Relay because cancer is the leading cause of death around the world.

I Relay for Laurie, who lost her life to breast cancer seven years ago, and for her family, who lost an irreplaceable mother and wife.

Why do you Relay?

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1 Comment

One Response to “Why Do You Relay?”

  1. Midge M. Leon on March 8th, 2017 11:11 pm

    I am dedicated to relay and attend every year in Woodstock. However I move from Thompson however still honor the cause. I found out I had breast cancer at the same time as Laurie. We used the same doctor at U-Mass and kept in touch. Unfortunately, Laurie’s fight was lost & when that happened I became angered to think she is so young with young children and I was much older with children and grand children.I lived my life and hers was begining. Please continue the fight against cancer and honor the relay where ever you live.RIP Laurie and know you will always be lloved by many

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