Sunday, May 15, 2005
A Week Not For the Weak
This week is countdown to Relay. In addition to the regular work, evening meetings, the class I am teaching, and the class I am taking, this is also the week for final preparations for the Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). Relay is a wonderful event that lasts 24-hours because cancer never sleeps. Teams of people join the cause with each team having a representative on the track at all times. Each team also sets up a tent and hosts activities corresponding to the ACS’s mission delivery. Some teams provide educational material on the various cancers or host activities that fit with the mission of the ACS. There is also entertainment, activities, and all kinds of fun happening the entire 24 hours. The best thing is that a lot of money is raised as well as a lot of awareness. There are also two special events. First, the kick off lap is led by survivors of all types of cancers. It is a very moving ceremony. Secondly, in the evening there is a ceremony where luminaries are set out all around the field in a special ceremony that honors both those who gallantly fought until the end, those fighting now, and those who have fought and won.

Our booth will be offering three things. First, we are providing ribbons that people can personalize and wear in memory of or in honor of someone they know who has or is battling cancer. Also, we are participating in the “Picture a Cure” program where we solicit letters and attach pictures from people whose lives have been touched by cancer. These letters are provided to our political leaders because it provides a face to the disease. It helps us personalize the requests for additional funding for research and treatment. And finally, as part of our fundraiser, we will “Craft for a Cure.” We will be inviting people to come and make a bracelet for people they know or in honor of people they know using beads of the colors that symbolize the various cancers (i.e. pink for breast cancer). Hopefully we will be able to make a few additional bucks in addition to all the donations we have currently raised. I’m very proud of the response of my fellow employees. There is a dedicated core group of about five or six of us that will be staying the entire 24 hours and many, many more that will be coming and walking for an hour or more each. I work with an amazing group of people and this is only one way they show it.

One thing I love about this event is that it is a celebration. It celebrates so much: the lives of people living with cancer, the incredible job that caretakers do, and hope for the future. We learn new things everyday in regard to treatment and quality of life as we inch toward a cure for many forms of cancer. It is an amazing, inspiring, uplifting, and most importantly, fun event! If you would like more information about this event and would like to make a contribution, please email me. There is always room for one more!

I have decided that I am dedicating each lap I walk to someone. First and foremost, I am walking in memory of my Unlce Alfonso, my friend Steve Kelley, my co-worker Gary Schelin, and my friend Harrison Sanborn. Next I am walking one lap in honor of all the survivors I know, including my sisters Joanne and Jan. Next I am walking a lap in honor of my family, near and far, who gave me so much support and strength on my journey. Finally, I am walking a special lap in honor of my sister and caretaker, Joyce, without whose quiet strength and joyous laughter I would not have made it through treatment and recovery. I walk in celebration, I walk in gratitude, and most importantly, I walk in hope. -

After this week is over, I am officially declaring the beginning of my summer slack. Stay tuned for details… Y
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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