me and my mom

me and my mom

The first Relay I attended was in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in 2000. I believe it was one of the first Relays in Ontario. While I had known people who had passed away from cancer, I was motivated to participate mostly because it sounded fun. And it was fun. There’s a reason ‘Celebrate’ is one of the three main tenets of Relay. Along with the fun though, I was staggered by the number of survivors participating and, of course, I was especially moved by the Luminary Ceremony. You would have to be made of stone and then coated in teflon to not be moved by the Luminary Ceremony, and even then, I think there’s a good chance you’d get a little choked up.

After that first Relay one of our team members (Lucy) began volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society. I continued to Relay, in order of priority: to support her, have fun and as a bonus, raise money for a good cause. Over the years, my priorities shifted. For one, I definitely didn’t want to support Lucy anymore…she’s just so pushy. She won’t read this right?

In truth, the realities of cancer hit much closer to home in 2003, when my mom was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

I’m sure every child thinks his or her mom is special (after all, you don’t see many “World’s Okayest Mom” mugs or “37th Best Mom” t-shirts do you?). My mom truly was special. With the exception of my brother and me, she never had a bad word to say about anyone (and let’s face facts, my brother and I could drive anyone around the bend). I often refer to her as “my dear sainted mom” but that’s mostly just to irritate whoever I’m talking to.

Although it’s been almost ten years now since she passed away, I remember the period vividly because it all happened so fast. From the time she was diagnosed until the day she passed away was only three short weeks. I was on vacation when she was diagnosed and she didn’t tell me until I got back because she didn’t want to ruin my trip. A sweet sentiment, but it meant I only got to spend two weeks with her. None of us knew how little time we had.

My brother and I lost our mom, my dad lost his wife and best friend, my aunt lost her sister and best friend and countless others have lost someone dear to them.

I share my story with donors not because I’m going for the sympathy angle. Unfortunately, these stories are all too common. I share my story because people can relate. So many people who support our team and our Relay efforts donate because they lost a parent too, or a sibling, or a child. By explaining to potential donors “why I Relay,” I show them that together, we are fighting a common enemy and that their support can make an impact for so many families like mine.

I started Relaying 13 years ago because I thought it would be a fun road trip. Now, I Relay for the sole purpose of seeing a world without cancer. It’s still fun, but that’s the bonus part now.