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What is Relay for Life, and Why I Relay
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Why I Relay
Alisa Tucker-Lee was my children’s teacher. She soon became a very close and dear friend. We lived and worked in Germany at the same time, attended the same church and hung out together often. The time came when we both had to return to the United States and go our separate ways, but we always kept in touch.
We rejoiced when our paths brought us together again in Louisville, KY. She met a wonderful man and was married. I was excited to be in attendance at her wedding. When she found out she was expecting, she asked me to be her birthing coach. I was honored to be present at the birth of her beautiful daughter.
Again, our paths took us in separate directions. She stayed in Louisville and added another daughter to her family. I moved to Ozark, Alabama, where my life went through many adjustments. Through it all we kept in contact through cards, letters and phone calls.
One fall day I received a phone call from Alisa, she told me she had been diagnosed with colon cancer. I knew “cancer” was bad; I just didn’t know how bad it was. Alisa asked me to come visit her soon because the cancer had metastasized in her brain and on her liver. I had no idea what that meant, but I promised her I would come just as soon as I could.
Finances were very tight for me in those days, and I was simply unable to afford the gas to make the nine-hour drive to Louisville; besides I thought there was plenty of time. People lived with cancer for years, didn’t they?
Only a few months later I received a phone call from her sister. Alisa was gone; cancer had taken her away from her loving husband and two young daughters. I was devastated. Why didn’t I make more of an effort to go to her when she asked? I was angry. Why was this vibrant, loving, young woman taken from those she loved?
I had helped with Relay for Life at work by raising money, but that was about the extent of my exposure to Relay or The American Cancer Society. I had never attended a Relay Event, let alone, a Luminaria Service.
The next Relay for Life Event, I attended. I purchased a Luminaria in honor of my dear friend Alisa. During the service I lit the candle in her honor and broke down, crying like a baby.
That Relay for Life was a turning point for me. I made a vow that I would fight against cancer, not only in my friend’s memory, but for her daughters as well. Since that time I’ve lost many friends to cancer, too many. I have also found friends who have survived and won their fight with cancer.
She wanted me to know how much my visit meant to her
I recieved a prayer request for one of the deacon’s wives from our church. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was not expected to live much longer. My heart ached once again, but this time I didn’t wait. I called her husband and asked when I could come and see her, we arranged a time and I went. She was at home; weakened by the disease and the treatments she was enduring but she was pleased and excited to see me. We sat for a long time, talking about our children, reminiscing about the days when they were younger. We talked about our favorite church services, our favorite sermons, and our favorite songs. Before I left, I asked if I could pray with her. She welcomed my request with enthusiasm.
My prayer was simple and brief. I asked God to watch over my dear sister, to give her the strength she would need to make this journey she was on, and to give strength to her husband and sons as they traveled along side her. I asked that He give her victory over cancer.
Tears streamed down our cheeks as we hugged and said goodbye. A few days later I received a thank you card from her. She wanted me to know how much my visit meant to her, how our conversation of our children and of LIFE had lifted her spirits. She thanked me for praying with her and assured me that she now had the strength to complete her journey. Two days after Christmas, only a few weeks after my visit, Sharon went home victorious and cancer free.
I still have that thank you note. I continue to Relay each and every year. I Celebrate with those who have won their fight against cancer, I Remember those who have been taken by such a devastating disease, and I will continue to Fight Back.
Your my hero
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