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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Monday, May 23, 2011

My 2011 Relay

Ready to go to the Fayette County, TN, Relay for Life walk! The shirt I'm wearing was designed by my sister Heidi's bank branch to raise money for the BancorpSouth Relay team. They've raised almost $4000 which amazing for a small community! Many thanks to BancorpSouth, Amber B, Amber M, Jessica, my sister and all the other BancorpSouth employees who donated their time and talent to a successful Relay event.

You can still buy this Believe shirt (well not THIS exact one, but one exactly like it) and the black Angel wing shirt (below pic shows the back) in short or long sleeve. 


If you don't know what Relay for Life is all about click here. It's truly AWEsome, meaningful and touching.

As I promised, I Tweeted from the event, but the cell coverage wasn't reliable and the phone battery didn't hold up to the pressure of taking pictures and Tweeting very well. It was hard to walk and type at the same time anyway. If you'd like to read my Tweets from that evening, click here then click on my Profile to read my history from May 21. 

My Survivor shirt! I felt relieved, joyful, proud and nostalgic putting on this purple shirt. I was thrilled to fit quite comfortably into a smaller size than I did last year, too. 

As always, Relay kicks off with the Survivor lap. I was in the front of the crowd this year because I'm a 'new' Survivor as I've been in Remission for less than a year. That felt surreal. It must be longer than THAT, right? 

This year all the Survivor's were given purple balloons and at the end of the Survivor's Lap we let them go. It was neat, in it's corny way. No, I didn't get a picture of the balloon release. 

The next lap is the Care Giver's lap. My sister Heidi and I walked hand in hand. My other sister and Mom were greatly missed. They have been incredible Care Givers, too. 

This year walking laps was very important to me. I had hoped to walk all night, in the true spirit of Relay, but wasn't physically able and my sister had an obligation Sunday afternoon so she needed some sleep. I am very grateful that I was able to walk for the better part of 5 hours. Last year I wasn't able to do even 1 full hour. The memory of how physically and emotionally exhausted I was at last year's Relay in Fayette County was forefront in my mind this year. 

As I walked I thought of my Nana and the pain and suffering she went through for her cancer treatment. She was such a gentle and kind soul and didn't deserve that, or any, pain. I thought of my friend Shelley's sister who recently went to Heaven after her long battle with cancer. I thought of my friend and Survivor-sister Jessica who is in treatment for a recurrence and did a triathlon that morning. Jessica is such an inspiration! She is a personal trainer who has kept working and working out as she goes through chemo! I thought of my new Facebook friend, fellow Cathlete and Survivor-sister, Carola and the struggles she's been facing trying to start her treatments. I thought of my new friend, Kim, who I had just met that night. She's my Survivor-sister, too and has just begun chemo. I walked for all of us, and all the other Survivors out there and everywhere. I cried, I smiled, I remembered and I walked. 

Anyone who has had cancer is a Survivor, in my mind. It took me a while to think of myself as a Survivor, though. Now a Survivor, to me, is anyone who has heard the words 'you have cancer'. It feels as if your world is ending in those first shocked moments, but right then and there you start surviving- even before you start fighting. 

Remember this pic? October seems soooo long ago!
The most fun I have at Fayette County's Relay is the dancing part of the evening. Around 10pm, when people are starting to get tired, the dance party starts. Heidi and I danced the Electric Slide, Chicken Dance, Macarena, Casper Slide and Cupid Shuffle. I'm don't know the steps to all these dances very well, but I had a blast. I was even able to do all jumps, my once chemo-ed out and sore knees have made huge strides! I was filled with joy and gratitude. I'm not sure if there are any pictures of Heidi and I dancing, but if some (good) ones show up I'll share them with you. 

After a water and snack break, I got back on the track and continued walking. I walked with a thankful heart and mind. My feet and knees were starting to fee sore. I was reminded of the intense pain I felt in my legs during chemo. I wasn't sure if that pain would ever fade. I thought about how strange it had felt to experience such tremendous pain that didn't stem from a physical injury. Feeling pain after a physical injury makes logical sense, right? Pain that comes from medicine that's supposed to be making me 'better' was hard to understand and accept. Feeling pain from walking so long made sense, and knowing that in a day or so I that pain would melt away was comforting. I am in control of my pain, my joy and my thankfulness level. That realization completed the circle of Relay for Life for me this year. 

Flashback to my first ever Relay for Life. Marco Island 2009. 

Around midnight my body had given out, my sister had completed her volunteer duties. We were ready to go home. 
I've come a LONG WAY in a year. I'm thankful for another year to Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back with my fellow Survivors. May we all be able to join together next year.... 

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