Saturday, June 09, 2007
Relay for Life
If you have ever faced a major illness or some type of crisis in your life, then you know how amazing it is to feel the support of a community of people. I believe that love, support, nurturing, and compassion do a lot to help us heal in many ways. I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who helped me get through the worst parts of my cancer experience and yet continue to support me.

The annual Relay for Life in my community has become a special event for me for many reasons. I wanted to share a few reasons why I continue to Relay.

This year was the third year I had the chance to see my friend Shelby. She is 8 years old. She had a brain tumor 4 years ago. The first year I saw her, she was in a stroller. Last year she was in a wheelchair, but could walk if each of her parents held one of her hands. This year, she was able to make a complete lap on the track walking on her own. She is a beautiful girl with gorgeous brown eyes that sparkle brighter than the stars. Her determination and her parents' dedication to her ongoing therapy give me hope.

This year my friend, Jim, walked the survivor lap with me. Exactly one year ago the same day, he was having 1/3 of his lung removed. He just had his one-year "all clear" report. He stayed the entire 24 hours with the support of his family and friends. This was a celebration of life for Jim and his many supporters.

I watched my friend, Darlene, carefully write out the names of her family and friends in whose memory she would walk. She made a sticker for each one. Her back was covered by the time she was done. I am in awe of her passion and dedication, but she is tired. She is tired of adding names to her back year after year. If love could cure, she would have cured as all long ago.

I met a woman who came to our tent. She was there with friends, family, and her 27 year old daughter who is battling a rare form of uterine cancer. Fragile and scared, it was evident she came to this event and others like it in search of hope for her daughter. When someone told her I was a cancer survivor, her eyes lit up, she hugged me tightly and whispered, "God bless you, God bless you." If for no other reason, I know I survived breast cancer for this very moment. The moment that gave this mother a little strength and perhaps a glimmer of hope that her daughter, too, could survive.

I connected with a community of people who care so deeply about one another and about winning the fight against cancer. The conversations that were heard around the track were about compassion, care, commitment, and defeating cancer. It is an emotional roller coaster of a day, but well worth it. I know that every dollar raised will be put to good use through research, early detection programs, and patient care services.

Thank you to everyone who supports Relay events in your own communities and to those who supported my team (we raised $33,000!!! this year and $60,000 total in the three years we have participated). Because of your generosity, lives are being saved and changed. Because of your dedication, the hope for a cancer-free future goes on.

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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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