Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Catching Up
I can't believe I have only had one post about the Relay for Life coming up this weekend. One of the great things about this event (and I stress one) is that no one can successfully complete this event alone. There is no way that one person can last the full 24 hours circling the track. There is no way that one person can raise enough money on their own. It takes a team of people working together to finish victoriously and raise enough money to sustain the delivery of the American Cancer Society's mission in our community. In the same way, no one can battle cancer alone. It takes a team of people -- doctors, nurses, caretakers, family, friends, ministers, the list goes on -- to slay the beast.

I am not in this event alone. A few months ago, I approached the city manager where I work about putting together an official team. He was very supportive and even pledged our first donation. I knew there was a small core of people who were committed to this event. I wasn't sure there would be enough support to make a good showing. My organization is made up of very generous people that are already committed to supporting other very worthy causes. Was there room for one more?

The people I work with are amazing. The response was overwhelming. Our team has 40 participants and to date we have raised over $6,000 (and counting). As I bundled up our donations and registration forms to submit for the event, I also had to sort through the donations for the luminarias. These are paper lanterns that are lit in the evening in a special ceremony. People can purchase luminarias in memory of someone or in honor of someone. As I sorted through the forms and donations, my eyes filled with tears as I opened forms with luminarias purchased in my honor. I never did this to bring attention to my cancer, I did this to do something positive for cancer treatment and research. I have said it before, I work with amazing people who have generous hearts. I will always defend these people when they are labeled "government workers" (as though it is a bad thing!). I work with people who are committed to serving the community in many ways. Their actions prove it time and time again.

I don't think it would be difficult to raise awareness and funds for cancer if people took the time to read some very poignant blogs to which I have become addicted. I never did attend any support groups, even though I know how beneficial some people find them. Perhaps I have that type of forum here in the blog world. When I read the stories of Louise, Rae, Cancer Baby, and others I do find a kinship. These women are very eloquent and are able to articulate what I feel, but cannot say. While they have dealt with ovarian cancer, the experiences and repercussions are similar. These are courageous women I walk with in spirit and hold in my prayers. Read their stories and you'll understand why my commitment to events like Relay for Life and Race for the Cure are so important to me. No one should have to face this journey, especially not as young as these women. I respect them so much for sharing their lives and keeping it real in print.

The other day I started to list the people in whose honor I will walk at the Relay for Life. Unfortunately, once I start to shake that family tree, the cancer nuts shake out in bushels. Frankly, I don't think I have the stamina to walk individual laps for everyone. It is disheartening to see the ages get younger and younger with each generation, but there is also hope in seeing the number of us that are survivors.

So to sum up this long and rambling post, I am excitedly anticipating Relay this weekend. I look forward to joining my co-workers and hundreds of people who wish to bring joy and hope to a world of pain and sorrow and despair. I know this makes a difference. I know this brings light to the world. I know that one day we will win this war . . . one battle at a time.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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