As the time for the opening ceremony to the 2012 Relay for Life approaches, I can’t help but think about how special this time is for the survivors. I am not a survivor, but my mom is. Her name is Linda Payne and in 1986 she was diagnosed with our first round of cancer and we were told that two years would be a long life for her. I say “our” first round because, as any of you know, when a loved one is battling anything of this magnitude, you all battle it together.
We have participated with Relay for many years and while some years mom was sick and couldn’t go out for the festivities, this year is one that I don’t want to miss.
We have just recently been told that the cancer is back, it is different than any she has fought in the past 26 years (seven other times). We don’t know much more than that right now because Mom had surgery the end of May and hasn’t completely recovered from that yet, so the doctors are trying to let her regain some strength before she has to undergo anything else.
It is for this reason I am not sure she will be able to do the survivor lap this year. I know in the past when she has been down like this, just going out and visiting with others that are dealing with the same issues it gives you hope and it gives you comfort. A comfort that can only come from a community that once a year comes out in droves to show support and love for our families who are hurting and suffering.
One of the most precious memories I have came from a Relay for Life event. Mom was battling this awful disease for the second time and had undergone a major surgery that resulted in some infection in her leg, making it difficult to walk. It didn’t seem to matter to her, Relay was coming up and she was working toward being able to walk the survivor lap.
It was during her recovery with this round that we found out a dear friend had been diagnosed with lung cancer and the prognosis wasn’t very good. We talked to him and his family about Relay and about how special it was being out there with everyone.
They did come out and Mom, the perpetual caregiver to everyone else, stood up and let our friend have her wheelchair and for the survivor lap mom pushed our friend! I am sad to say we did lose our friend before the next Relay came around but I am happy to report that Mom got stronger.
Now I have to tell you that while we are grateful to the doctors, physician assistants, and nurses that have taken care of Mom, we have always given God the praise and glory for all He has seen fit to bring Mom through. It is not for us to ask why God seems to allow us to go through these valleys, but it is for us to praise Him for everything.
When I talk about how proud I am of my mom, of her faith, her fight, her passion for life, she tells me God did it. I don’t want to take anything away from God, I know He is the one in control, but He also gave us free will and my mom gladly and freely CHOOSES to have the faith, she chooses to fight and to live. I can honestly say that if I were to have been in her shoes, I would have given up a long time ago — I am so glad that she hasn’t!
But it also hasn’t been just my mom, in October Mom and Dad celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, for 26 of those years Mom has been in one battle after another one and my dad has been with her every step of the way.
I know that Mom isn’t alone in this battle, that there are some that we have lost, and there are some of us that just haven’t been diagnosed yet, but for today we all can come together at one time, in one place and let this disease know we are a community that will not give up quietly.
If you have been fortunate enough to not have been touched by this awful disease, we still need you out here on the track helping the rest of us fight. Just know that cancer does not discriminate against age, gender or financial status, no one is safe from this disease.
I hope to see you out there today to honor those who we have sadly had to say goodbye to, to celebrate and support those who are winning the battle right now. But more importantly let’s stand together to help find the cure so that we don’t lose another loved one or hear “I’m sorry, but your test results show that you have cancer.”
Denise Adkins works in the layout and page-dummying department at The Mount Airy News.