As the publicity chairperson of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life of Mahopac, I am primarily responsible for disseminating information about dates, times, locations and registration procedures for the Relay and many of the team-organized that precede it. That is all easy enough. What is more difficult to convey on a sign or in a , though, is the Relay experience, that intangible sense of hope and catharsis that Relay inspires and that brings people back each year, more determined than ever to join friends and strangers alike in an effort to fight cancer in so many different ways.
For me, the greatest joy of attending Relay each year is the chance to see old acquaintances and familiar faces that will become new acquaintances. In an era of emails, irregular workweeks and long commutes, it is so refreshing to attend community events that bring all sorts of different people together toward one common goal: beating cancer.
Those who have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly know that though "cure" is the most magical of words, almost too sacred to mention, the fight against cancer is a long one paved with small victories. While we wait for that elusive cure, we celebrate the advancements in medical technology and knowledge that increase the odds in favor of more birthdays and allow those suffering from cancer to have access to a variety of treatment plans and resources. Money raised at Relay For Life ceremonies funds one-on-one support to patients and pays for patients and their families to receive transportation and lodging while undergoing treatment — that's beating cancer. The "Look Good, Feel Better" program, which is funded by Relay donations and provides free skin care and make-up kits, allows patients to feel confident and look like the heroes they are as they recover from tiring treatments — that's beating cancer, too.
As long as we throw all the support we can to patients and survivors, as long as we raise money to fund important research, as long as people are informed about healthy habits, preventative measures and the benefits of early diagnosis, as long as we come out each year to walk around the track and maintain a resolve to fight cancer for the sake of those who have died, those who have survived and all who may be touched in the future, we are winning the battle.
If you have never been to Relay before, I strongly encourage you to check it out, even for a short time — families will find plenty of activity to keep kids occupied (bouncing castles, races, pony rides, music, etc.) and you may find there is almost too much going on to fit into one day! If making a day of the event is not an option for you, consider attending either the opening ceremony/survivor lap and luncheon at noon or the moving candle-lit luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m.
This year's Relay For Life of Mahopac will take place at Mahopac High School (421 Baldwin Place Road) on June 2. Registration and information about the silent auction items is available at www.relayforlife.org/mahopacny. The Relay For Life of Patterson will be held June 9 at Patterson Fire Dept. No. 1 (off Route 311) and information is available at www.relayforlife.org/pattersonny.
I hope to see many of you there!