Imagine a world without cancer; a world where the dreaded disease does not cut people down or upend a person’s life. Every year, nationwide, the Relay for Life and American Cancer Society work on bringing us closer and closer to that goal.
Fifty relays, including the one held last Saturday at Washington & Lee High School’s football field, are set up nationwide, with over 3 million people taking part. The Northern Neck Relay for Life has been running for over 30 years now, and for the last four, it has been in among the top five Relay for Life events per capita in the nation. The Relays also help fund just shy of $9.5 million in cancer research grants in the state. While the subject was somber, the mood was the exact opposite. Instead of being mired in pity, the attendees were hopeful of the future the funds they raised could help bring.
Two guest speakers were on hand at the start of the relay: Virginia Representative Rob Wittman, and Montross Town Manager Patricia Lewis. Both had had their lives upturned by the disease; Lewis losing her mother in 2018 after a three-year struggle with lung cancer.
“Everyone here has been affected by cancer, “Wittman said, “but I believe that we will see a cure for cancer within the next fifteen years. We will understand what causes it, what triggers it; whether it’s the proteins in our body, our genetics we were born with, all of those are important, and what you do today will make a difference in peoples’ lives. What you do today will result in a cure for cancer. What you do today will result in people being able to have cancer detected early so they can be more effectively treated. I want to thank you for what you’re doing today to make sure that we can prevent and cure cancer, not just today, but throughout the year.”
Lewis’ message was a fair bit more somber, but no less important.
“Nobody is immune. Cancer has affected us all in some way, whether it’s us, our friends, our family, or our co-workers. It’s a disease that does not give up,” at this point, she regaled those present with the story of her mother, and how she had endured shingles, pneumonia, broken vertebrae, and ultimately a collapsed lung before passing in 2018. However, much like everything else the day had been about, her message changed from one of sorrow to one that looked forward to what the funds raised could bring about.
“I’ve had some dark and sad days, but as time passed, losing Mom helped change my perspective on a lot of things, especially about life. It’s too short to be a workaholic or be filled with regrets. Take some time to enjoy life’s little pleasures; laugh, love, and help others. Keep your chin up, speak kindly, learn, play, and smile; be grateful for every second you are given to spend with the people you love. As we walk together today, please remember our loved ones that lost their battle, and jump for joy for the survivors.”
One final speaker, from among the event staff, gave a final reminder of why everyone had gathered at the football field that day.
For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 6/12/19
The Luminaries that were lit at the Relay for Life event represent hope
and remember those who are gone too soon from cancer.