By Lisa Bicknell
CV&T News Editor
Twenty years ago, my little family and my husband’s cousin and her family vacationed together almost every summer. We made many fond memories on trips to the beach and while camping. Those were more carefree days, when our kids were small and disease was something that touched someone else’s life. I don’t think any of us ever imagined that my husband and her husband would walk the Relay for Life survivor lap together as cancer survivors one day. But they did on Friday evening. Eleven years ago, Robin, my husband, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during a routine physical. He had a complete thyroidectomy and was prescribed a thyroid hormone replacement drug to take the rest of his life. He didn’t require any other treatment, and he’s been healthy ever since. He is very fortunate. Robin’s cousin’s husband had mysterious aches and pains for years and felt tired and run down all the time. About a year and a half ago, he was finally diagnosed with bone cancer. He has since undergone grueling cancer treatments including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He was terribly sick at times, and the prognosis sometimes looked grim for him, but he’s better now. On Friday night, as these special dads walked the survivor lap with many other cancer survivors, it was a bittersweet occasion, as it was for many others. Cancer survivors and their families feel a kinship I think, because, as with anything, no one knows unless they’ve been there. Besides the money raised, that’s one of the most important benefits of Relay for Life. Those who have received the dreaded diagnosis are encouraged by others who have also gone through the experience. Those who are caregivers of cancer patients are encouraged by others who are supporting loved ones with the disease. Other benefits result from Relay. The aforementioned cousin and her husband were guests at Hope House near a Lexington hospital for three weeks during the prescribed period of isolation following his bone marrow transplant. The Hope House is an outreach of Relay for Life. Meals were brought to them by churches and other community service organizations. Their cabinets were supplied with food and all the essentials needed for living, and they had the physical comforts of home, at least, during a trying time. The Relay for Life organization, as well as other organizations such as the American Heart Association, have been criticized for raising funds that mainly go toward administrative salaries. I’m not denying there is probably some truth to that. But it’s about more than raising money. It’s about community, and carrying one another’s burdens. It’s about having a good time in the face of fear. It’s about suffering with those who suffer and celebrating with those who are healing. It’s about hope. And life. And the gift of being able to walk around a high school track on a sunny summer evening, to smell campfires and hear music and laughter while enjoying the company of friends and family. For those reasons, I think we can say with certainty that Relay for Life is a worthy cause.