Relay reasoning varies for each person

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When you are involved in a Relay for Life fundraiser, the question participants are always encouraged to answer and share with others is why we Relay.

The answer to that is as varied as the participants, but the main theme is the same – losing a loved one to cancer and wanting to take steps to ensure others don’t suffer the same pain.

The way Relay is set up, it acknowledges the journey people with cancer and their loved ones take, and brings people with them.

First, we celebrate the survivors – those who have been or are on their cancer journey and still continue to fight every day. The survivors’ lap that kicks off Relay is a chance to celebrate and encourage cancer survivors and their families and show them they aren’t alone. Big sap that I am, it is here that the first of many tears I shed during the event start to fall.

Second, we remember and honour the people who we have lost to cancer and those still valiantly fighting. The luminary ceremony is touching and poignant, when participants have a moment of silence to light the candles that line the track and then listen to music in a shared experience of remembrance of our loved ones and why we are on the track. More tears and bittersweet memories with lots of hugs, some from complete strangers.

And third, Relay encourages people to fight back by being vigilant with early detection measures such as prostate and breast exams, colonoscopies and pap tests, and share that encouragement with our family and friends. It reminds us that we never want to hear the phrase, “If only we caught it sooner,” again.

Since it began in 1999 with the first Relay that raised $85,000, to date Relay participants have raised $496.5 million for the Canadian Cancer Society to be put towards ground-breaking research and important support services for cancer patients and their families.

Because of research, cancer patients have new hope for survival. The latest statistics show that 83% of children and 63% of adults now survive at least five years after their cancer diagnosis. Every day new treatments and knowledge about cancer – how it forms and how it can be beaten – are helping people to survive what may have killed them 10 years ago.

There are so many causes that are worthy of our time and attention, but for me, Relay for Life is an event that will always be close to my heart. Losing both parents and many close relatives to cancer makes the disease personal and all too real for my family.

Even if you don’t want to join a team, buy a luminary for $5 and remember a friend or loved one when Relay comes to the CKSS athletic field in June, and for everyone’s sake, keep up with health checks and tests and be involved in own wellbeing. Your family and friends will love you for it.

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