In case you didn’t know, the Windham County Relay for Life is Friday, June 21, at the Brattleboro Union High School track. For nine years around the same time, hundreds of people converge on this piece of Brattleboro real estate in the hopes of taking a step closer to fighting cancer, a step closer to finding a cure. Plain and simple and far too often, people have a cancer story -- a friend of a friend, an uncle, an aunt, a mom, a dad, a sister, a brother, a child or themselves. Pretty much everyone has a cancer story and it’s only going to get worse. They’re predicting by the year 2020 cancer rates will increase by 50 percent. If that’s not enough to get you out there, I’m not sure what is.
Cancer isn’t going anywhere ... at least not yet. But because of the good work of the American Cancer Society, cancer isn’t the death sentence it once was. Why? Because folks just like yourself go out and get involved; they put themselves in the fight and they raise money and awareness around this disease. It’s important, and I know that I spent last week saying that it may not be your main thing, but it doesn’t make it any less important. We’re rapidly approach a time where you could look at the person next to you and if you don’t have cancer, statistically they probably do. And with that number in mind, only a third of them will survive it. Staggering numbers when you stop and think about it because if I had to guess, I would say that if you had a 50/50 chance of dying at 3 p.m. today in a car accident ... you probably would walk.
Yes, my numbers are meant to scare you, and yes, they are meant to open your eyes and let you know that in the next seven years you’ve got a 50/50 shot at being diagnosed with cancer. I’m sorry to be the bearer of that news. But the good news is you can still get in the fight and you can still wage your war against cancer. It can be as simple as purchasing a luminaria bag for $10. The Luminaria bag allows you to honor the person in your life that is either battling or lost their battle with cancer, it really is a wonderful way to recognize that person. It can also be a little more involved: You can form a team and then beat up your neighbors and friends for donations to walk the track just like Andrea Scott who, as of today, has raised more than $16,000!
But what drives people like Andrea, myself and the committee members of the Relay? Probably a little anger or the feeling of injustice you have when you lose someone close to you from this disease. Speaking for myself, I lost my mom, my mother-in-law and even my dog Max to cancer. Three beings on the planet that I loved dearly and I won’t ever get to connect with again (at least in a mortal state). I’ll never get to hear my mother say I love you again, I’ll never get one of those calls from my mother-in-law on my birthday that always made me feel, if even for only a moment, the most important person on the planet. Lost forever are the noises Max would make when we went through a drive-thru and he thought he’d be getting a snack. Those are the things that I don’t get anymore, and it’s all because of cancer.
So needless to say, I’m mad at cancer and I want it gone! I don’t want to ever hear another story about a kid with cancer, a healthy person who got it ... I just want it gone. So I do my part to help that mission. I raise money, I organize and I show up. So, yes, I’m asking you to do the same on the night of June 21. Come to the Brattleboro Union High School Track and walk with us. Make a contribution if you can, but if you can’t, see what it’s all about. And when you hear the stories and feel the tears you’ll find yourself saying, what the hell is up with that?