Relay for Life is not a typical fundraiser. It is an overnight event signifying the journey of a cancer patient – it is overnight because cancer never sleeps. Relay starts at dusk and ends at the next day’s morning. The light and darkness of the day and night symbolize the physical effects, the emotions, and the mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment.
The RELAY begins in the gentle calm of the afternoon, sometimes cloudy, but nearly always with the sun peeking through. A cancer patient hears the words, “You have cancer.” The setting of the sun symbolizes the beginning of the diagnosis, just like friends and family everywhere come to their loved one once they learn they have cancer, the crowd gathers in support, together, they vow that they will make it through this difficult journey and they will make a difference. The crowd, like the family and supporters, are determined, committed, and supportive.
The day gets darker and this represents the cancer patient’s state of mind as they feel their life may be coming to an end. Candles begin to be lit – showing HOPE for the loved one with cancer – more and more glow in the night, showing that even in the darkest of times, the survivor has HOPE from those who care for them.
As the evening continues, it gets colder and darker, just as the cancer patient’s emotions do. 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. represents the time when treatment begins. They become weak, exhausted, and possibly want to give up. As a participant in RELAY, you may have some of the same feelings. You cannot stop or give up, just as the cancer patient cannot give up. You keep on moving – walking, talking, laughing, crying, and insisting on continuing even though it is uncomfortable and you are tired.
4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. symbolizes the coming of the end of treatment for the cancer patient. They are tired, but they expect to see the brightening of the sky soon, just as a RELAY participant is looking for the sun to rise.
The sun rising represents the end of treatment for the cancer patient. They see the light at the end of the tunnel. The morning light brings on a new day, full of life and excitement for new beginnings. As a participant, you will feel the brightness of the morning and know that the end of RELAY is near. You have made it through the night – the best part, you are still standing, laughing and awake. Those of you in the early morning understand the importance of sticking together and seeing it through till the very end.
When you leave RELAY, think of the cancer patient leaving their last treatment. Just as you are exhausted and weak, so is that person after treatment.
Cheatham County will hold its RELAY for Life on June 8 – 9 at Riverbluff Park in Ashland City. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m. and closing ceremonies will commence at 6 a.m. Walk with us, cry with us, celebrate with us, and help us find HOPE. We will have games, food, a luminaria ceremony for survivors and those we have lost, a silent auction, and live entertainment all night long.
Please contact Jennifer Roberts for additional information, to register survivors, or to purchase luminarias at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-9573.