This weekend, as the Davison and Grand Blanc Relays for Life get underway, I have to stop and think back to my first experience with the 24-hours walk against cancer.
My first experience with Relay was in 2009. Covering the event for the papers, I found the stories of the cancer survivors and those of families whose lives had been affected by cancer were hitting close to home.
It made me think back to eight years ago when I was struggling with the hardest time of my life. I was out of work, having a hard time getting by, and I had just lost my mother to cancer.
Mom’s death was what I consider the beginning of a personal slide for me, one I believed I might never get out of.
To add insult to injury, my car died in the midst of all this and I found myself without a means of transportation and without the money I needed to fix it. I was in trouble.
Getting around without a car is pretty tough, not to mention trying to find a job and keeping it. I’d sometimes leave the house where I was living on Burton’s southwest side and I would walk all day to take care of what I needed to do. The big event every week was going to see my children, a 15-mile trek one way.
It was hard, and at times there seemed little hope things would get better. The walking was good for me in that it helped me lose some weight and got me in better shape, but it was also good in that I had a lot of time to think about things … like how I’d gotten to the point I was at and how I was going to get back. I also thought a lot about my mom, Betty, who had been my best friend through everything that had happened the first 39 years of my life. Those walks might have been lonely, but I knew she was there with me the entire way.
Things finally did get better. I found work, I got transportation again and I got my act together.
So when I heard about
Relay for Life, a walk to support cancer research, I knew I wanted to take part in it. It was something she would have done herself if she were still living.
That year, in
2009, my sister and I joined the Davison Relay and walked about 12 miles in support of the cause. Before I had walked simply to get by, but now I was walking to honor my mom and support cancer research.
It was also a chance to meet a lot of nice people and share in both fond and sad memories of loved ones we have all lost to this disease.
I knew I was not alone there at the Relay for Life — my mother being there with me in spirit as she had been those months I walked everywhere — but I also knew I needed to be with those who were still here, among the living, who love me.
That is how mom would have wanted it to be.
Relay for Life in Davison and Grand Blanc will take place from 10 a.m. June 1 to 10 a.m. June 2.