Our View….Where did everyone go?Anyone who’s ever sat across from his or her family doctor and gotten the grim news of a cancer diagnosis will know what sheer terror is all about.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Anyone who’s ever sat across from his or her family doctor and gotten the grim news of a cancer diagnosis will know what sheer terror is all about. It’s not something that anyone can prepare you for, and when it happens, it’s as though you’re the only person in the world with so heavy a burden to bear. And yet, hundreds of thousands of people have that very experience every year – the rich, the poor, and all nationalities and cultures around the world – and no one should be left to feel they are battling it alone.
That’s why the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event struck so strong a chord with folks when it first began 28 years ago. In 1986, 19 teams took part in the very first team relay event on a track in Tacoma, Wash., and raised $33,000. Today, there are some 5,200 Relay for Life events to battle cancer across the country, and collectively they have raised more than $4.5 billion to save lives and provide hope and inspiration for millions of cancer survivors, their families and their caregivers.
Here in Carlton County, the Relay for Life event has been around for some 17 years and raised more than $500,000. But all is not well. This year’s event is slated for this Friday, Aug. 17, at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center. The goal is $33,000 – but sadly, the number of volunteers is way down, as is the financial support, and only two teams have signed up to take part. That’s pretty diminished circumstances for an event that once attracted 15-20 teams and hundreds of participants.
What could possibly be the explanation for this sad turn of events? It’s not all that unusual for some events to run their course after a period of time. However, anyone who has ever participated in, benefited from, or witnessed a Relay for Life event will be the first to admit they’ll never forget it.
Since the fundraising is taken care of ahead of time, the Relay is a night of pure celebration – celebration of a successful effort, celebration of those who have faced that cancer diagnosis and survived it, and celebration of the fact we’re a community united in our commitment to not only provide help and support to those who have cancer but to be a part of finding a cure for this dreaded disease.
It’s not too late to show we’re a community more than two teams strong when it comes to fighting cancer. Why not plan to show up at some point during the evening’s ceremonies and events on Friday? Show your support during the honorary survivors’ lap with your presence, arrange to have a luminary or two lit in honor or memory of someone you know with cancer or consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society in support of the Relay and its purpose. Or better yet, walk a few laps and put yourself in the shoes of those it honors and supports. Chances are, you’ll never be quite the same again.