My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Relay For Life 2013

on June 23, 2013

This past Friday night was our annual Relay for Life walk for the Canadian Cancer Society. I look forward to this every year. My husband and I began doing the Relay about 10 years ago, when a friend asked us to join their team. We started walking in memory of his dad who died of liver cancer and my stepdad who died of lung cancer. After my own diagnosis, I began walking for myself as well. And I know several people who are survivors as well so I walk in honour of them too.

I have always been on a friends team, but not this year. This year I created my own team. I wasn’t sure what to expect as team captain, but I was excited as well. I got a little bit of a late start this year because I was getting things ready to do the Relay in Chandler with my friend Jeff and his family. I got my fundraising going and asked everyone I knew to be on my team. I did well with my fundraising this year. I’m very happy about that. A few people said they might join my team or come out for part of the night. It was short notice so I knew I might not get very many.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of 50 laps at the Relay. In Arizona, I got 46, which is the most I’d ever done. I really wanted to hit my goal this year. But even if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to be upset about it because I’d already accomplished a lot this year. With my new shoes, I was pretty sure I could do it. I like to call them my magic shoes because I feel like I can do so much more since I got them LOL.

The day before the Relay, I started packing the things I would need or thought I’d need. I decided to take a screen tent instead of a regular tent since I had no plans to sleep. I set out a couple of chairs, my yoga mat, sunscreen, bug spray, a blanket, extra shirts, a jacket, umbrella (just in case), snacks, a book, and a few other little things. I packed everything except food and water, which I was saving until I was almost ready to leave.

The morning of the Relay, I slept in as late as I could, then got up and started getting ready. M friend Karen was going to pick me up in the afternoon and take me and all my stuff over. Tyler was coming along to help. Once we got there, Tyler helped me get the tent set up and some stuff organized. I picked a pretty good spot too. I hope I can get it next year too. Or at least one in the same area. After we got things set up, Tyler and I did a lap around the track and some stretches to warm myself up. He couldn’t stay because he had other plans, and I understood. I was happy he could help me get set up. I turned in the rest of my monies, signed in at the survivors tent, and waited for the fun to begin.

Opening ceremonies start and speeches given. Now it’s time for the survivors lap. It’s one of the best parts of the night. So many survivors and caregivers. So amazing to see. The track is lined with everyone else clapping and cheering for those walking. I always get teary-eyed. Shortly after, my friend Doug showed up. After he settled in, we hit the track together. About 9:30 or so, my friend Liz showed up. She had never been to a Relay before. She was very excited. I think she’s working a blog post of her own about it. Dan came down as well and brought me some more water and ice. I was almost dark, so we waited for the luminary ceremony to begin. Another one of my favourite parts of the night. This year, I did luminaries in memory of Warren (my stepdad) and David (Dan’s dad), and to honour two of the greatest people I know — Jeff’s dad Alan and Tyler’s mom Joe.

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If you’ve never been to a Relay event before, I would highly recommend you go. The luminary ceremony alone is worth going for. It’s so moving and so touching. Remembering those lost, honouring those still fighting, and celebrating those who’ve won.

After the ceremony, we hit the track again. Liz and I walked together, and Dan and Doug walked together. After a couple of laps, Dan headed back home. He needed to go to work the next day. Doug, Liz and I kept walking. Liz can only stay a few hours, but that’s okay. I’m glad she could make it, no matter how long she could stay. Doug can’t stay all night either, but I knew that too. My friend Sammy, who is on another team, stopped by a couple of times with her boyfriend. We chatted for a few and I shared snacks I’d brought.

Doug takes off to be with his girlfriend, so Liz and I continue on our own. We walk and talk and laugh and joke. She is so awesome. I love her. She’s one of the greatest people I know. She totally rocks. After awhile, Liz has to leave too. I wish she could stay, but I know she can’t. Hopefully next year she can stay for the whole thing. In the end, we walked about 5k together. Pretty awesome. So I walk her to her car, say goodnight and head back to the track. I have a lot more walking to do.

One of the neat things done at Relay are the lap beads. You purchase a cord and add a bead to it for each lap you do. I think it’s cool. And some people get really creative with how they put the beads on. My cord from last year has 35 beads on it and I did the, in sort of a rainbow. This year, I decided to stick its just one colour to make it easier. Each time I took a break from walking I would add the beads and recount them to see how I was doing. I was getting closer and closer to my goal.

About 5am there is free breakfast – pancakes and sausages. And it’s cooked by firefighters. Awesome.

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I sat and watched them cooking for a little bit before getting in line. I washed my breakfast down with some chocolate milk and then head back to the track. I’d been losing steam for a while, so I wasn’t walking as fast but I was still determined to walk as much as I can. It was starting to get light out so I know it’s getting close to the end. I was listening to music on my phone. The same music that helps me get through a tough cardio session at the gym.

At about 6:30am, I did it. I finished my 50th lap. Goal completed. As I sat down at my campsite, and took my string of beads off to place the last one on, I was smiling and a little teary-eyed. It was an emotional moment. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing my goal, but sad my friends weren’t there to see it happen.

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I decided not to walk anymore, mainly because I was incredibly tired and my feet were hurting a bit. Instead, I took down my tent, packed everything up, and waited for the Relay to be officially done. Then I sent a text to Dan to let him know he could pick me up any time. I slept for about 6 hours or so after getting home. I got up, showered, dressed, ate, and watched a bit of tv. I was still pretty tired, so I went to sleep. Next thing I know, Dan is home from work and its 9pm. I stayed up for a bit longer then went back to sleep again. I woke up about 10am and finally felt like I had gotten enough sleep to make for the lack of sleep at Relay LOL.

Relay 2013 was really awesome, maybe the best one yet. I can hardly wait to get started on next year’s Relay. I’ll be on the committee next year, as well as a team captain. I’m very excited about that. I already have a few ideas churning in my head.

Thank you to everyone who supported me, sponsored me, and helped me prepare. Thank you to Tyler for helping me get set up that day. Thank you to Karen for the ride there. And a special thank you to Doug and Liz for spending part of the night with me. Everyone of you helped me reach my goal. You all rock my socks!

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