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June 7, 2013 7 PM
Hazel Green High School
Hwy 231/431, Hazel Green Map it
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Dear North Madison County Relayers;
My name is Julie Stewart, and I have agreed to step into the committee chair position for this year’s relay event. Ms. Nicole Hicks has graciously agreed to co-chair this event with me. Some of you may know me from the New Market School relay team in 2010, the Survivor Chair in 2011, or last year as the Team Captain for Buckhorn Middle’s team and an assistant to Beth Hayes for the Survivor Dinner, Survivor Reception area and the Caregiver Garden/Survivor Quilt Square “keeper” for the last two years.
I am not sure we are ready to relay this year in North Madison, so I am sending out this message to all of you to ask for your help. You see, after being involved with Relay for over 14 years, I was getting a little, shall we say, burned out. After being attached to this community’s relay for the last 2 years, I was not only burnt out, but disenchanted.
I LOST MY SPIRIT TO RELAY
There were many things that contributed to that, and I am sure that each and every one of you has had that same feeling at some point. Perhaps the last several years have not been very inspiring for you, either. Perhaps you feel it is not the same anymore, that it is not “fun” to relay anymore, that our community’s relay is not “the place for you” anymore. I do understand how you can feel that way.
I WAS READY TO QUIT OUR RELAY TOO
Then something happened….my daughter, Danielle, looked at me and quietly said “we cannot stop relaying”. I kept saying no, I’m too tired and I don’t feel the joy anymore. She kept saying “we cannot stop relaying”. When we met Nina Hermes, she was 3 and Danielle was 3 and they became instant best friends. For 3 ½ years, wherever you looked, there they were – Nina was small and petite, Danielle tall and lean – Mutt and Jeff – both blonde and full of life. Nina was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2006, went into remission in March of 2007 and died 15 minutes after Danielle said goodbye to her best friend on November 11, 2007.
So, when I get too tired, I remember Nina walking down the hospital hallway with her IV pole and mask to meet her friend in the “germ-free” child’s area to “play”. When I get too overwhelmed, I remember Nina’s mother trying to deal with the cancer taking her child away while holding her family together. When I get too frustrated with how things are being done, I remember all the support our community gave to Nina, her family, and to our Relay Event when they all had other things to do, other places to be, lives of their own. When my spirit gets lost, I remember the tears on my daughter’s cheeks when we left Nina’s bedroom after she told her friend it was ok, she would always and forever be her best friend, and I say “NO MORE”.
Each of you has a piece of Relay in you –it may be buried way down deep right now, but it is there. Once you say “I am a Relayer”, you will forever be one. You cannot quit – you cannot stop – you have to continue to celebrate, remember and fight back so we can all say “NO MORE”.
We are holding a meeting on November 9th at 5:30 at 1st Baptist Church, Meridianville.
We need your help. We need committee members to help put our community’s relay back together because it is broken. We are not looking to have 6 or 7, but 15 or 20, or 30 committee members – we are redefining how the committee works to meet our community’s needs. We will not have monetary goals nor # of team goals – the ONLY goal of our relay this year is to Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back.
Nicole and I will fight for our relay till the last, but we cannot do it alone. It is your community, and you need to summon that piece of relay back up and come meet with us – just give us a chance- tell your story - let us listen – then give us a chance to make this relay something we can all participate in for the pure joy of relaying.
Relay for Life was something that I had heard of, but I didn’t really know what it was all about. I’d see people wearing the Relay for Life purple shirts and see the luminaries lined up one after another, in memory of loved ones who had not survived the dreaded disease of cancer.
Sadly, nearly every person will be affected by cancer at some time in their lives.
I remember the sweet girl that I went to school with. I remember when she was going to have a baby, and the terrible word cancer entered her life. She became such an inspiration to so many people across the community, but she lost her battle and left behind a husband and a beautiful little girl.
My mother-in-law was finally convinced to see a doctor because she hadn’t been feeling well for a long time. On Tuesday she had a liver biopsy, on Thursday she was told she had cancer, and by Saturday, she was gone.
My mom had the majority of her colon removed because of cancer and, although we’re all thankful that she has beaten this horrible disease, she is cursed with having to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.
The pharmacist down the road was lost to cancer. The nice family from church lost their husband/father to cancer. A co-worker has myelofibrosis, a type of leukemia, and is currently undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Another co-worker had cancer in his lymph nodes, but has received treatment and is now in remission.
All of these stories are true, and have happened to people I know. At first I didn’t really understand how cancer could touch so many people, but over time it seems that I learn about someone else I know that is in some way affected by it. So, even though I personally do not have cancer, it has affected my life as person after person in my life is diagnosed with it.
Do I want to be more involved in Relay?? Of course I do! I can’t sit aside and wait for cancer to just go away, and I will do whatever I can to help raise money for research with the goal in mind of never having to hear that “there is nothing that can be done.” I pledge to go out into my community and get others involved, because together, we can make great things happen! Being involved in Relay has introduced me to so many wonderful people who have truly been a blessing and inspiration in my life. And despite the sadness of the disease, Relay for Life is actually a celebration of a community because, at the end of Relay, in the early morning hours, we realize we are one step closer to winning the battle by helping to provide the needed funds for the cure to be found.
The journey to end cancer starts with a single step. The American Cancer Society invites you to take that step with us by joining the global Relay For Life movement. When you walk to end cancer at a Relay event, it's your opportunity to not only honor cancer survivors and remember loved ones lost, but also to raise awareness about what we can do to stay well from cancer and raise money to help fuel the world's largest walk to end cancer.