Normally at this time of year, the newspaper is featuring stories about local cancer survivors. We would be interviewing the honorary Relay for Life survivors walk lead person and allowing them to tell their story. This year the Relay for Life is very different. People walking to raise money for the cause will be doing so virtually instead of at the Pomme de Terre Park. There will be no survivors lap, and no honorary chairperson(s), but a few things will remain the same.
I would like to think that this year’s relay leads include each person who is currently or has suffered from cancer in the past. It is for all those who have died from the disease and everyone who might get it in the future. We are focused today on COVID-19 but there are still people being diagnosed and treated for cancer. People are still surviving but some are dying from it. The Relay for Life continues to need our support.
We recently printed an article from the Relay for Life team which asked us to ‘Paint the Town Purple’ from July 26 – August 1. I think this is a great way that we can show our support in a physical manner. I can’t wait to drive around and see all the purple decorations. I also happen to like the color so it will be extra special.
We can also offer our emotional support for people suffering from cancer. We can simply ask how they are doing, offer to take them to treatments, and be there to listen when they need to talk. We should allow them to share what they are going through without judging or trying to offer unsolicited advice. We need to celebrate with them as they reach each new milestone in the fight.
Probably one of the most important ways we can help is through financial support. The Relay for Life funds goes to the American Cancer Society. This organization helps fund research for new cancer-fighting drugs and treatments. This has come a very long way over the years and is probably one of the reasons more and more people today are surviving the disease.
There are people I know who have cancer who now take a monthly chemo shot instead of the IV type treatments. This seems to be a less invasive and hopefully more successful treatment. New medications are entering the market regularly as well as new ways to diagnosis it in the early stages. The Relay for Life is much more than just a walk in the park. It is more than teams doing laps in honor or memory of a loved one. It is more than a yearly event to raise awareness and even more than the heart-wrenching sight of hundreds of luminaries. Rather it is proof of how all these things can bring about successful results in a fight against a terrible disease. I encourage you to check out the Relay for Life website (www.relayforlife.org/stevenscountymn) to see what you can do.