Relay for Life: fighting cancer, one step at a time

Relay+for+Life%3A+fighting+cancer%2C+one+step+at+a+time

The fight against cancer must be taken step by step. This is the message that Relay for Life embodies.

On May 3, the second annual Relay for Life brought together Guilford and members of the Triad community to walk for a cause at the Guilford’s Armfield Athletic Center.

“Relay is a fun event to get the community involved in supporting the fight against cancer,” said senior Katie Chapman. “Friends and families come together to enjoy the company of each other, good food and live entertainment, all while supporting and donating to a great cause.”

Relay for Life kicked off with a survivor’s lap, a highlight of the evening, when those who have defeated cancer walked the first lap of the night. Energy was high and spirits were even higher.

While it commemorates and honors those who have lost the battle to cancer, Relay for Life is a celebration of life and the human will.

“Seeing the emotional impact Relay events have on survivors, caregivers and family or friends of those who have passed is so inspirational and shows how important these Relay events are,” said senior Autumn Yoder.

Yoder and Chapman are both infielders for the softball team thaat organized the event.

For first-year Caitlyn Young, this year’s Relay for Life held particular value. Young, a member of the women’s soccer team, lost her mother to colon cancer in June 2012.

“This event really means a lot to me,” said Young. “This is where I honor my mother and all the people who have been lost to cancer, those who are fighting it now, and the caregivers who support them.”

Young’s relay team raised over $1,000 during the event.

“Although I never knew Caitlin’s mother, I felt as if something like that could happen to anyone, me included,” said first-year Cassie Vaughn, Young’s close friend and teammate. “Relay was the least I could do to help others that have been affected by such a tragic disease and remember those lives that were lost.”

This emotional occasion provided the last step in the grieving process, acceptance.

All around, bonds were formed and friends were made. Empathy and tranquility emanated from every face and every smile. Relay is a time of remembrance and a time of celebration.

One event in particular, the Luminaria Ceremony, was overwhelming in its power.

Everyone involved received a glow stick and questions such as, “Have you lost a loved one to cancer?” are asked. The people who identify with the questions break their glow stick. The glow sticks are then put into luminary bags, which are decorated to commemorate those who have been lost to or are currently battling the disease.

“Looking out onto the field and seeing all of the bags surrounding it, it put everything into perspective for me,” said Vaughn. “I realized exactly how many people are affected by this disease, whether directly or indirectly.”

While these bags represent the hardships and heartbreak of battling cancer, with a little light and warmth, they turn into something beautiful.

That is what Relay for Life is about: replacing dark with light, anger with acceptance, and fear with hope.

And it begins with that first step.

[photomosaic nggid=131]